Remembering Ray Charles (1930-2004)
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Remembering the great Ray Charles, who was born this week in 1930. Regarded as one of the most iconic and influential singers in history, and often referred to by contemporaries as “The Genius”, Charles was credited with the early development of soul music.
Charles’s rhythmic piano playing and band arranging revived the “funky” quality of jazz, but he also recorded in many other musical genres. Charles emerged as a blues and jazz pianist indebted to Nat King Cole’s style in the late 1940s. Propelled by his distinctive raspy voice, “I’ve Got a Woman” and “Hallelujah I Love You So” became hit records. “What’d I Say” led the rhythm and blues sales charts in 1959 and was Charles’s own first million-seller.
The recipient of many national and international awards, he received 13 Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement award in 1987. In 1986 Charles was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received a Kennedy Center Honor, and he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1993.