Hollywood Walk of Fame
Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), known professionally as Ray Charles, was an American singer-songwriter, musician, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians, he preferred being called "Brother Ray." He was often referred to as "The Genius."
Charles was blind from the age of seven.
He pioneered the genre of soul music during the 1950s by combining blues, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic Records. He also contributed to the integration of country music, rhythm and blues and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his two Modern Sounds albums. While he was with ABC, Charles became one of the first black musicians to be granted artistic control by a mainstream record company.
Charles cited Nat King Cole as a primary influence, but his music was also influenced by country, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues artists of the day, including Louis Jordan and Charles Brown. In the late forties, he became friends with Quincy Jones. Their friendship would last till the end of Charles's life.
Frank Sinatra called him "the only true genius in show business," although Charles downplayed this notion.
In 2002, Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time," and number two on their November 2008 list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time." Billy Joel observed, "This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley".
Early life and education
Robinson was the son of Bailey Robinson, a laborer, and Aretha Williams. At the time, she was a teenage orphan making a living as a sharecropper. They lived in Greenville, Florida, with Robinson's mother and his wife, Mary Jane Robinson. The Robinson family had informally adopted Aretha, and she became known as Aretha Robinson. When she, scandalously, became pregnant by Bailey, she briefly left Greenville late in the summer of 1930 to be with family members in Albany, Georgia, for the baby's birth. After that, mother and child returned to Greenville, and Aretha and Mary Jane shared Ray's upbringing. He was deeply devoted to his mother and later recalled her perseverance, self-sufficiency, and pride as guiding lights in his life. His father abandoned the family, left Greenville, and took another wife elsewhere.
In his early years, Charles showed a fondness about mechanical objects and would often watch his neighbors working on their cars and farm machinery. His musical curiosity was sparked at Wylie Pitman's Red Wing Cafe, at the age of three, when Pitman played boogie woogie on an old upright piano; Pitman subsequently taught Charles how to play the piano. Charles and his mother were always welcome at the Red Wing Cafe and even lived there when they were experiencing financial difficulties. Pitman would also care for Ray's brother George, to take the burden off Aretha. George drowned in Aretha's laundry tub when he was four years old and Ray was five. Charles started to lose his sight at the age of four or five, and was completely blind by the age of seven, apparently as a result of glaucoma. Destitute, uneducated and still mourning the loss of George, Aretha used her connections in the local community to find a school that would accept a blind African-American student. Despite his initial protest, Charles attended school at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine from 1937 to 1945.
Charles further developed his musical talent at school, and was taught to play the classical piano music of J.S. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. His teacher Mrs. Lawrence taught him how to read music using braille which was a difficult process that requires learning the left hand movements by reading braille with the right hand and learning the right hand movements by reading braille with the left hand, and then synthesizing the two parts. While Charles was happy to play classical music, he was more interested in the jazz, blues and country music he heard on the radio. On Fridays, the South Campus Literary Society held assemblies where Charles would play piano and sing popular songs. On both Halloween and George Washington's birthday, the black Department of the school had socials where Charles would play. It was here he established "RC Robinson and the Shop Boys" and sang his own arrangement of "Jingle Bell Boogie". During this time, he performed on WFOY radio in St. Augustine.
Aretha died in the spring of 1945, when Charles was 14 years old. Her death came as a shock to Ray, who would later consider the deaths of his brother and mother to be "the two great tragedies" of his life. Charles returned to school after the funeral, but was then expelled in October for playing a prank on his teacher.
1945–1952: Life in Florida, Los Angeles, Seattle and first hits
After leaving school, Charles moved to Jacksonville with a couple who were friends of his mother. He played the piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre in LaVilla for over a year, earning $4 a night. He also joined the musicians’ union in the hope that it would help him get work. He befriended many union members, but others were less kind to him because he would monopolize the union hall’s piano, since he did not have one at home. He started to build a reputation as a talented musician in Jacksonville, but the jobs did not come fast enough for him to construct a strong identity. He decided to leave Jacksonville and move to a bigger city with more opportunities.
At age 16, Charles moved to Orlando, where he lived in borderline poverty and went without food for days. It was an extremely difficult time for musicians to find work, as since World War II had ended there were no “G.I. Joes” left to entertain. Charles eventually started to write arrangements for a pop music band, and in the summer of 1947 he unsuccessfully auditioned to play piano for Lucky Millinder and his sixteen-piece band.
In 1947, Charles moved to Tampa, where he had two jobs: one as a pianist for Charles Brantley's Honeydippers, a seven-piece band; and another as a member of a white country band called The Florida Playboys (though there is no historical trace of Charles' involvement in The Florida Playboys besides Charles' own testimony). This is where he began his habit of always wearing sunglasses, made by designer Billy Stickles. In his early career, he modeled himself on Nat "King" Cole. His first four recordings—"Wondering and Wondering", "Walking and Talking", "Why Did You Go?" and "I Found My Baby There"—were supposedly made in Tampa, although some discographies also claim he recorded them in Miami in 1951, or Los Angeles in 1952.
Charles had always played piano for other people, but he was keen to have his own band. He decided to leave Florida for a large city, and, considering Chicago and New York City too big, followed his friend Gossie McKee to Seattle, Washington in March 1948, knowing that the biggest radio hits came from northern cities. Here he met and befriended, under the tutelage of Robert Blackwell, a 15-year-old Quincy Jones.
He started playing the one-to-five A.M. shift at the Rocking Chair with his band McSon Trio, which featured McKee on guitar and Milton Garrett on bass. Publicity photos of the trio are some of the earliest recorded photographs of Ray Charles. In April 1949, Charles and his band recorded "Confession Blues", which became his first national hit, soaring to the second spot on the Billboard R&B chart. While still working at the Rocking Chair, he also arranged songs for other artists, including Cole Porter's "Ghost of a Chance" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Emanon". After the success of his first two singles, Charles moved to Los Angeles in 1950, and spent the next few years touring with blues artist Lowell Fulson as his musical director.
In 1950, his performance in a Miami hotel would impress Henry Stone, who went on to record a Ray Charles Rockin' record (which never became particularly popular). During his stay in Miami, Charles was required to stay in the segregated but thriving black community of Overtown. Stone later helped Jerry Wexler find Charles in St. Petersburg.
After joining Swing Time Records, he recorded two more R&B hits under the name "Ray Charles": "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" (1951), which reached number five; and "Kissa Me Baby"(1952), which reached number eight. Swing Time folded the following year, and Ahmet Ertegün signed him to Atlantic Records.
1952–1959: Atlantic Records
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In June 1952, Atlantic Records bought Charles's contract for $2,500. His first recording session for Atlantic ("The Midnight Hour" / "Roll With My Baby") took place in September 1952, although his last Swingtime release ("Misery in My Heart" / "The Snow Is Falling") would not appear until February 1953. He began recording jump blues and boogie-woogie as well as slower blues ballads, in which he continued to show the vocal influences of Nat "King" Cole and Charles Brown. In 1953, "Mess Around" became Charles's first hit for Atlanic; the following year he had hits with "It Should Have Been Me" and "Don't You Know", which became his first chart success for Atlantic. He also recorded the songs "Midnight Hour" and "Sinner's Prayer". Some elements of his own vocal style were evident in "Sinner's Prayer", "Mess Around", and "Don't You Know".
Late in 1954, Charles recorded his own composition "I Got a Woman". It became one of his most notable hits, reaching number two on the R&B chart. "I Got a Woman" included a mixture of gospel, jazz and blues elements that would later prove to be seminal in the development of rock and roll and soul music. In 1955, he had hits with "This Little Girl of Mine" and "A Fool for You". In upcoming years, he scored with "I'll Drown in My Own Tears" and "Hallelujah, I Love Her So". By 1959, Charles reached the Billboard Top Ten with "What'd I Say", which made him a major figure in R&B.
Parallel to his R&B career, Charles also recorded instrumental jazz albums, such as The Great Ray Charles (1957). During this time, he also worked with the jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson, releasing Soul Brothers in 1958 and Soul Meeting in 1961. By 1958, Charles was not only headlining black venues such as The Apollo Theater and The Uptown Theater, but also bigger venues, such as The Newport Jazz Festival (where he cut his first live album). In 1956, Charles recruited a young all-female singing group named the Cookies and reshaped them as the Raelettes. Until then, Charles had used his wife and other musicians to back him on recordings such as "This Little Girl of Mine" and "Drown in My Own Tears". The Raelettes' first recording session with Charles was on the bluesy gospel-inflected "Leave My Woman Alone".
Charles in 1971
Charles reached the pinnacle of his success at Atlantic with the release of "What'd I Say", a complex song that combined gospel, jazz, blues and Latin music, which Charles would later claim he had composed spontaneously as he was performing in clubs and dances with his small band. Despite some radio stations banning the song because of its sexually suggestive lyrics, the song became Charles' first ever crossover top ten pop record. Later in 1959, he released his first country song (a cover of Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On"), as well as recording three more albums for the label: a jazz record (later released in 1961 as The Genius After Hours); a blues record (released in 1961 as The Genius Sings the Blues); and a traditional pop/big band record (The Genius of Ray Charles). The Genius of Ray Charles provided his first top 40 album entry, where it peaked at No. 17, and was later held as a landmark record in Charles' career.
Charles' Atlantic contract expired in the fall of 1959, with several big labels offered him record deals; choosing not to renegotiate his contract with Atlantic, Ray Charles signed with ABC-Paramount Records in November 1959. He obtained a much more liberal contract than other artists had at the time, with ABC offering him a $50,000 annual advance, higher royalties than before and eventual ownership of his masters—a very valuable and lucrative deal at the time. During his Atlantic years, Charles had been heralded for his own inventive compositions, but by the time of the release of the instrumental jazz LP Genius + Soul = Jazz (1960) for ABC's subsidiary label Impulse!, he had virtually given up on writing original material, instead following his eclectic impulses as an interpreter.
With "Georgia on My Mind", his first hit single for ABC-Paramount in 1960, Charles received national acclaim and four Grammy Awards, including two for "Georgia on My Mind": Best Vocal Performance Single Record or Track, Male and Best Performance by a Pop Single Artist. Originally written by composers Stuart Gorrell and Hoagy Carmichael, the song was Charles' first work with Sid Feller, who produced, arranged and conducted the recording. Charles earned another Grammy for the follow-up "Hit the Road Jack", written by R&B singer Percy Mayfield.
By late 1961, Charles had expanded his small road ensemble to a full-scale big band, partly as a response to increasing royalties and touring fees, becoming one of the few black artists to crossover into mainstream pop with such a level of creative control. This success, however, came to a momentary halt during a concert tour in November 1961, when a police search of Charles' hotel room in Indianapolis, Indiana, led to the discovery of heroin in his medicine cabinet. The case was eventually dropped, as the search lacked a proper warrant by the police, and Charles soon returned to music.
In the early 1960s, whilst on the way from Louisiana to Oklahoma City, Charles faced a near-death experience when the pilot of his plane lost visibility, as snow and his failure to use the defroster caused the windshield of the plane to become completely covered in ice. The pilot made a few circles in the air before he was finally able to see through a small part of the windshield and land the plane. Charles placed a spiritual interpretation on the event, claiming that "something or someone which instruments cannot detect" was responsible for creating the small opening in the ice on the windshield which enabled the pilot to land the plane safely.
The 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and its sequel Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 2, helped to bring country into the musical mainstream. Charles' version of the Don Gibson song I Can't Stop Loving You topped the Pop chart for five weeks, stayed at No. 1 in the R&B chart for ten weeks, and also gave him his only number one record in the UK. In 1962, he founded his own record label, Tangerine Records, which ABC-Paramount promoted and distributed. He had major pop hits in 1963 with "Busted" (US No. 4) and Take These Chains From My Heart (US No. 8).
In 1965, Charles' career was halted once more after being arrested for a third time for heroin use. He agreed to go to rehab to avoid jail time, and eventually kicked his habit at a clinic in Los Angeles. After spending a year on parole, Charles reappeared in the charts in 1966 with a series of hits composed with the fledgling team of Ashford & Simpson, including the dance number "I Don't Need No Doctor", and "Let's Go Get Stoned", which became his first No. 1 R&B hit in several years. His cover of country artist Buck Owens' "Crying Time" reached No. 6 on the pop chart and helped Charles win a Grammy Award the following March. In 1967, he had a top twenty hit with another ballad, "Here We Go Again".
Charles's renewed chart success, however, proved to be short lived, and by the 1970s his music was rarely played on radio stations. The rise of psychedelic rock and harder forms of rock and R&B music had reduced Charles' radio appeal, as did his choosing to record pop standards and covers of contemporary rock and soul hits, since his earnings from owning his masters had taken away the motivation to write new material. Charles nonetheless continued to have an active recording career. Most of his recordings between 1968 and 1973 evoked strong reactions: people either liked them a lot or strongly disliked them. His 1972 album, A Message from the People, included his unique gospel-influenced version of "America the Beautiful", as well as a number of protest songs about poverty and civil rights. Charles was often criticized for his version of "America the Beautiful" because it was very drastically changed from the song's original version. The common argument against this is that the words are scattered and changed, but the music in the background remains beautiful and untouched. Many people believed that this was a perfect representation of the freedom Americans are given, free to do what they want, so long as they follow the laws (music) that we are given.
In 1974, Charles left ABC Records and recorded several albums on his own Crossover Records label. A 1975 recording of Stevie Wonder's hit "Living for the City" later helped Charles win another Grammy. In 1977, he reunited with Ahmet Ertegün and re-signed to Atlantic Records, where he recorded the album True to Life, remaining with his old label until 1980. However, the label had now begun to focus on rock acts, and some of their prominent soul artists such as Aretha Franklin were starting to be neglected. In November 1977, he appeared as the host of NBC's Saturday Night Live. In April 1979, his version of "Georgia on My Mind" was proclaimed the state song of Georgia, and an emotional Charles performed the song on the floor of the state legislature. Although he had notably supported the American Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s, Charles was criticized for performing at the Sun City resort in South Africa in 1981, during an international boycott protesting that country's apartheid policy.
One of his last public performances, at the 2003 Montreal International Jazz Festival
In 1983, Charles signed a contract with Columbia Records. He recorded a string of country albums, as well as having single hits with duet singers such as George Jones, Chet Atkins, B. J. Thomas, Mickey Gilley, Hank Williams, Jr., Dee Dee Bridgewater ("Precious Thing") and his longtime friend Willie Nelson, with whom he recorded the number 1 country duet "Seven Spanish Angels".
Prior to the release of his first album for Warner, Would You Believe, Charles made a return to the R&B charts with a cover of The Brothers Johnson's "I'll Be Good to You", a duet with his lifelong friend Quincy Jones and the singer Chaka Khan, which hit number one on the R&B chart in 1990 and won Charles and Khan a Grammy for their duet. Prior to this, Charles returned to the pop charts in another duet, with the singer Billy Joel, on the song "Baby Grand". In 1989, he recorded a cover of the Southern All Stars' "Itoshi no Ellie" for a Japanese TV advertisement for the Suntory brand, releasing it in Japan as "Ellie My Love", where it reached number 3 on its Oricon chart.
Charles's 1993 album My World became his first album in some time to reach the Billboard 200, whilst his cover of Leon Russell's "A Song for You" gave him a hit on the adult contemporary chart and his twelfth and final Grammy. By the beginning of the 1980s, Charles was reaching younger audiences with appearances in films and TV shows. In 1980, he appeared in the film The Blues Brothers. Charles's version of "Night Time Is the Right Time" was played during The Cosby Show episode "Happy Anniversary", but he did not personally appear on the show. In 1985, he appeared among a group of other musicians in the USA for Africa charity recording "We Are the World". Charles's popularity increased among younger audiences in 1991 after he appeared in a series of Diet Pepsi television commercials which featured him singing the catchphrase "You Got the Right One, Baby". Two more slickly produced adult contemporary albums followed, Strong Love Affair (1996) and Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again (2002); both failed to chart and were soon forgotten.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he made appearances on the television show Super Dave Osbourne in a series of vignettes in which he was somehow driving a car, often as Super Dave's chauffeur. During the sixth season of Designing Women, Charles sang "Georgia on My Mind" in place of the instrumental cover version which had featured in the previous five seasons. He also appeared in four episodes of the popular TV comedy The Nanny, playing Sammy in seasons 4 and 5 in 1997–98. In 2001 and 2002, Charles appeared in commercials for the New Jersey Lottery to promote its "For every dream, there's a jackpot" campaign. During this same period, Charles toured in numerous countries throughout the world; he was extremely popular in Japan. When he appeared in London and Paris, he usually flew in the Concorde, while his band arrived separately in a 747.
Charles appeared at two separate US Presidential inaugurations, performing for Ronald Reagan's second inauguration in 1985 and for Bill Clinton's first in 1993. On October 28, 2001, several weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, Charles appeared during Game 2 of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees and performed "America the Beautiful". In 2003, he headlined the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington, D.C., attended by George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.
Also in 2003, Charles presented Van Morrison with Morrison's award upon being inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the two sang Morrison's song "Crazy Love". (The performance appears on Morrison's 2007 album The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3). In 2003, Charles performed "Georgia on My Mind" and "America the Beautiful" at a televised annual banquet of electronic media journalists held in Washington, DC. His final public appearance came on April 30, 2004, at the dedication of his music studio as a historic landmark in Los Angeles.
In 2003, Charles had successful hip replacement surgery and was planning to go back on tour, until he began suffering from other ailments. He died at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on June 10, 2004, surrounded by family and friends, as a result of acute liver disease. He was 73 years old. His funeral took place on June 18, 2004, at the First AME Church in Los Angeles with numerous musical figures in attendance. B. B. King, Glen Campbell, Stevie Wonder and Wynton Marsalis each played a tribute at Charles's funeral. He was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery.
His final album, Genius Loves Company, released two months after his death, consists of duets with various admirers and contemporaries: B. B. King, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Gladys Knight, Michael McDonald, Natalie Cole, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, Norah Jones and Johnny Mathis. The album won eight Grammy Awards, including Best Pop Vocal Album, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (for "Here We Go Again", with Norah Jones), and Best Gospel Performance (for "Heaven Help Us All", with Gladys Knight); he also received nods for his duets with Elton John and B. B. King. The album included a version of Harold Arlen's and E. Y. Harburg's "Over the Rainbow", sung as a duet with Johnny Mathis, which was played at Charles's memorial service.
Two more posthumous albums were released: Genius & Friends (2005), a selection of duets recorded from 1997 to 2004 with artists of Charles's choice, including "Big Bad Love" with Diana Ross, and Ray Sings, Basie Swings (2006), which combined live vocal performances by Charles from the mid-1970s recorded from the concert mixing board with new instrumental tracks specially recorded by the contemporary Count Basie Orchestra and other musicians to create a "fantasy concert" recording.
Charles was married twice and had twelve children with nine different women. His first child, Evelyn, was born in 1949 to his companion, Louise Flowers. His first marriage was to Eileen Williams Robinson and lasted from July 31, 1951, to 1952.
His second marriage, to Della Beatrice Howard Robinson (called "Bea" by Charles), began on April 5, 1955, and lasted 22 years. Their first child together, Ray Jr., was born in 1955. Charles was not in town for the birth, as he was playing a show in Texas. The couple had two more children, David (1958) and Robert (1960). Charles felt that his heroin addiction took a toll on Della during their marriage.
Charles had a six-year-long affair with Margie Hendricks, one of the original Raelettes, and in 1959 the pair had a son together, Charles Wayne. His affair with Mae Mosley Lyles resulted in another daughter, Raenee, born in 1961. In 1963, Charles had a daughter, Sheila Jean Robinson, with Sandra Jean Betts. In 1966, his daughter Aretha was born to a woman who remains unidentified, and another daughter, Alexandra, was born to Chantal Bertrand. Charles divorced Della Howard in 1977. Later that year he had a son, Vincent, with Arlette Kotchounian. A daughter, Robyn, was born a year later to Gloria Moffett. His youngest child, a son, Ryan Corey den Bok, was born in 1987 to Mary Anne den Bok. One of Charles's long-term girlfriends at the time of his death was Norma Pinella.
Substance abuse and legal issues
Charles first tried recreational drugs when he played in McSon Trio and was eager to try them as he thought they helped musicians create music and tap into their creativity. He first used marijuana and later became addicted to heroin for sixteen years. He was first arrested in the 1950s, when he and his bandmates were caught backstage with loose marijuana and drug paraphernalia, including a burnt spoon, syringe, and needle. The arrest did not deter Charles's drug use, which only escalated as he became more successful and made more money.
Charles was arrested again on a narcotic charge on November 14, 1961, while waiting in an Indiana hotel room before a performance. The detectives seized heroin, marijuana, and other items. Charles, then 31, stated that he had been a drug addict since the age of 16. The case was dismissed because of the manner in which the evidence was obtained, but Charles's situation did not improve until a few years later. Individuals such as Quincy Jones and Reverend Henry Griffin felt that those around Charles were responsible for his drug use. Charles loved to drink.
In 1964, Charles was arrested for possession of marijuana and heroin. Following a self-imposed stay at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, California, he received five years' probation for his crime. Charles responded to the saga of his drug use and reform with the songs "I Don't Need No Doctor", "Let's Go Get Stoned", and the release of Crying Time, his first album since having kicked his heroin addiction in 1966.
Charles liked to play chess, using a special board with raised squares and holes for the pieces. In a 1991 concert, he referred to Willie Nelson as "my chess partner". In 2002, he played and lost to American Grandmaster and former U.S. Champion Larry Evans.
In 2001, Morehouse College honored Charles with the Candle Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts and Entertainment, and later that same year granted him an honorary doctor of humane letters. Charles gave $2 million to Morehouse "to fund, educate and inspire the next generation of musical pioneers." In 2010, a $20 million, 76,000 sq ft (7,100 m2) facility, the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center and Music Academic Building, opened at Morehouse. Charles' longtime business manager Joe Adams was instrumental in bringing Charles' support, and Adams and his wife also were significant contributors to the center.
Charles possessed one of the most recognizable voices in American music. In the words of musicologist Henry Pleasants:
Sinatra, and Bing Crosby before him, had been masters of words. Ray Charles is a master of sounds. His records disclose an extraordinary assortment of slurs, glides, turns, shrieks, wails, breaks, shouts, screams and hollers, all wonderfully controlled, disciplined by inspired musicianship, and harnessed to ingenious subtleties of harmony, dynamics and rhythm... It is either the singing of a man whose vocabulary is inadequate to express what is in his heart and mind or of one whose feelings are too intense for satisfactory verbal or conventionally melodic articulation. He can’t tell it to you. He can’t even sing it to you. He has to cry out to you, or shout to you, in tones eloquent of despair—or exaltation. The voice alone, with little assistance from the text or the notated music, conveys the message.
His style and success in the genres of rhythm and blues and jazz had an influence on a number of highly successful artists, including Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, Billy Joel, and Steve Winwood. According to Joe Levy, a music editor for Rolling Stone, "The hit records he made for Atlantic in the mid-50's mapped out everything that would happen to rock 'n' roll and soul music in the years that followed". Charles was also an inspiration to Pink Floyd member Roger Waters, who told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet: "I was about 15. In the middle of the night with friends, we were listening to jazz. It was "Georgia on My Mind", Ray Charles's version. Then I thought 'One day, if I make some people feel only one-twentieth of what I am feeling now, it will be quite enough for me.'"
Ray, a biopic portraying his life and career between the mid-1930s and 1979, was released in October 2004, starring Jamie Foxx as Charles. Foxx won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Actor for the role. On December 7, 2007, the Ray Charles Plaza was opened in his hometown of Albany, Georgia, featuring a revolving, lighted bronze sculpture of Charles seated at a piano. The plaza's dedication was attended by his daughter Sheila Raye Charles.
Awards and honors
In 1979, Charles was one of the first musicians born in the state to be inducted into the Georgia State Music Hall of Fame. Charles' version of "Georgia On My Mind" was also made the official state song for Georgia.
In 1981 he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was one of the first inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural ceremony in 1986. He also received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986. In 1987, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1991, he was inducted to the Rhythm & Blues Foundation and was presented with the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement during the 1991 UCLA Spring Sing.
In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. In 1998 he was awarded the Polar Music Prize together with Ravi Shankar in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2004 he was inducted to the National Black Sports & Entertainment Hall of Fame. The Grammy Awards of 2005 were dedicated to Charles.
In 2003, Charles was awarded an honorary degree by Dillard University, and upon his death he endowed a professorship of African-American culinary history at the school, the first such chair in the nation. A $20 million performing arts center at Morehouse College was named after Charles and was dedicated in September 2010.
The United States Postal Service issued a forever stamp honoring Ray Charles as part of its Musical Icons series on September 23, 2013.
In 2016, US president Obama said that "Ray Charles's version of 'America the Beautiful' will always be in my view the most patriotic piece of music ever performed--because it captures the fullness of the American experience, the view from the bottom as well as the top, the good and the bad, and the possibility of synthesis, reconciliation, transcendence."
Contribution to civil rights movement
On March 15, 1961, shortly after the release of the hit song "Georgia on My Mind" (1960), Charles (who was born in Albany, Georgia) was scheduled to perform at a dance at Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Georgia, but cancelled the show after learning from students of Paine College that the larger auditorium dance floor would be restricted to whites, while blacks would be obligated to sit in the Music Hall balcony. Charles left town immediately after letting the public know why he wouldn't be performing, but the promoter went on to sue Charles for breach of contract, and Charles was fined $757 in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta on June 14, 1962. The following year, Charles did perform at a desegregated Bell Auditorium concert together with his backup group the Raelettes on October 23, 1963, and was not banned from performing thereafter in Georgia as depicted in the 2004 film, Ray. On December 7, 2007, Ray Charles Plaza was opened in Albany, Georgia, with a revolving, lighted bronze sculpture of Charles seated at a piano.
The Ray Charles Foundation
Founded in 1986, the Ray Charles Foundation maintains the mission statement of financially supporting institutions and organizations in the research of hearing disorders. Originally known as "The Robinson Foundation for Hearing Disorders", it was renamed in 2006, and has since provided financial donations to numerous institutions involved in hearing loss research and education. Specifically, the purpose of the Foundation has been "to administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes; to encourage, promote and educate, through grants to institutions and organizations, as to the causes and cures for diseases and disabilities of the hearing impaired and to assist organizations and institutions in their social educational and academic advancement of programs for the youth, and carry on other charitable and educational activities associated with these goals as allowed by law". The organization's philanthropic views stem from Charles' own views on giving, as the musician often contributed cochlear implant donations to those who could not afford the procedure. Charles was recorded as saying that the reason he has given so much more time and money to the hearing impaired, rather than the visually impaired, was that music saved his life, and he wouldn't know what to do if he couldn't experience it.
Recipients of donations include Benedict College, Morehouse College and numerous other universities. The foundation has previously taken action against donation recipients who do not use funds in accordance to its mission statement, such as the Albany State University which was made to return its $3 Million donation after not using its funds for over a decade. The foundation currently houses its executive offices at the historic RPM International Building, originally the home of Ray Charles Enterprises, Inc, and now also home to the Ray Charles Memorial Library on the first floor, which was founded on September 23, 2010 (what would have been Charles' 80th birthday). The library was founded to "provide an avenue for young children to experience music and art in a way that will inspire their creativity and imagination", and is not open to the public without reservation, as the main goal is to educate mass groups of underprivileged youths and provide art and history to those without access to such documents.
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2. Who is the only U.S. President to resign from office? Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, Chester A. Arthur, Richard Nixon?
3. Which city was the site of the first Ferris Wheel in 1893? St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago?
4. In which nation were U.S. hostages held for 444 days between 1979 and 1981? Iraq, Syria, Iran, Israel?
5. Which first lady banned dancing and card-playing in the White House?Abigail Adams, Sarah Polk, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan?
6. Which beverage was originally called Fruit Smack? Red Bull, Kool-Aid, SunnyD, Sunkist?
7. Which retailer opened its first store in Roseville, Minnesota on this day in 1962? Home Depot, Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart?
8. Which former baseball player is mentioned in the Simon and Garfunkel song "Mrs Robinson"? Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays?
9. In which U.S. city was the TV show Cheers set? Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, New York?
10. Who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1996 memoir "Angela's Ashes"? Frank McCourt, Stephen King, John Steinbeck, Truman Capote?
1. Answer: Ronald Gerald Wayne co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. Wayne worked with Steve Jobs at Atari before he, Jobs, and Wozniak founded Apple Computer on April 1, 1976. Serving as the venture's "adult supervision" Wayne drew the first Apple logo, wrote the three men's original partnership agreement, and wrote the Apple I manual. He soon, however, sold his share of the new company for a mere $800. As of March 2017, if Wayne had kept his 10% stake in Apple Inc., it would have been worth over $75.5 billion
2. Answer: Richard Milhous Nixon served as the 37th President of the United States from 1969 until 1974, when he became the only U.S. president to resign from office. In 1974, he resigned rather than be impeached for covering up illegal activities of party members in the Watergate affair. “By taking this action,” he said in a solemn address from the Oval Office, “I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.” President Gerald Ford took the oath of office on Aug. 9, 1974, after Nixon resigned.
3. Answer: The Chicago World's Fair was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World. The fair included carnival rides, among them the original Ferris Wheel, designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. This wheel was 264 feet high and had 36 cars, each of which could accommodate 40 people. The generic term Ferris wheel is now used for all such structures, which have become the most common type of amusement ride at state fairs in the United States.
4. Answer: The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic standoff between Iran and the United States. On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran taking more than 50 American hostages. The students set their hostages free on January 21, 1981, 444 days after the crisis began and just hours after President Ronald Reagan delivered his inaugural address. The crisis is considered a pivotal episode in the history of Iran–United States relations.
5. Answer: Sarah Childress Polk was married to the 11th President of the United States, James Polk. She served as First Lady from 1845 to 1849. A devout Presbyterian, as First Lady she banned dancing, card games, and hard liquor at the White House. When she attended the Inaugural Ball, she did not dance. Known as a strict “Sabbatarian,” kept her husband from conducting any official business on Sundays. She famously turned away a high-ranking Austrian official who came to meet the president on the Sabbath
6. Answer: Kool-Aid was invented by Edwin Perkins in Hastings, Nebraska. Its predecessor was a liquid concentrate called Fruit Smack. To reduce shipping costs, in 1927, Perkins discovered a way to remove the liquid from Fruit Smack, leaving only a powder. This powder was named Kool-Aid. Perkins moved his production to Chicago in 1931 and Kool-Aid was sold to General Foods in 1953. Hastings still celebrates a yearly summer festival called Kool-Aid Days on the second weekend in August, in honor of their city's claim to fame. Kool-Aid is known as Nebraska's official soft drink.
7. Answer: The first Target store was opened on May 1, 1962 in Roseville, Minnesota. Banker and real estate investor George Draper Dayton incorporated Target in 1902 as Goodfellow Dry Goods. The following year the name was changed to Dayton Dry Goods Company and shortened to Dayton Company in 1910. On May 1, 1962, Dayton Company opened its first Target store, designed as a discount version of Dayton’s department stores. Target is now the second-largest discount store retailer in the United States, behind Walmart
8. Answer: “Mrs. Robinson" is a song by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel and is famous for its inclusion in the 1967 film The Graduate. The song contains a famous reference to baseball star Joe DiMaggio. In Paul Simon’s obituary for DiMaggio in the New York Times, Simon explained that the reference was meant as a sincere tribute to DiMaggio's unpretentious heroic stature, in a time when heroes were in short supply. Simon subsequently performed "Mrs. Robinson" at Yankee Stadium in DiMaggio's honor the month after his death.
9. Answer: On September 30, 1982, NBC premiered the sitcom Cheers, a show about a bar owned by a retired Boston Red Sox pitcher named Sam Malone. The sitcom was set in a bar named Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts. “Boston was chosen partially because only five short-lived television shows claimed the city and the East Coast pubs were real neighborhood hangouts,” wrote Dennis A. Bjorklund in his book, Toasting Cheers. The show's main theme song, lent its famous refrain "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" as the show's tagline.
10. Answer: Angela's Ashes: A Memoir is a 1996 memoir by the American author Frank McCourt. The memoir consists of various anecdotes and stories of Frank McCourt's childhood. The memoir details his very early childhood in Brooklyn, New York, but focuses primarily on his life in Limerick, Ireland. It also includes McCourt's struggles with poverty and his father's alcoholism. The book was published in 1996, and won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. The sequel 'Tis was published in 1999, followed by Teacher Man in 2005
RIM COUNTRY FISHING REPORT
By: James Goughnour
Rim Country Custom Rods
The talk among Rim Country anglers is the long awaited initial deployment of artificial habitat into Roosevelt Lake. Four years ago, the AZGFD and the Gila County Roundtable Group agreed to a two-step solution to control the large gizzard shad population in the lake and improve the overall fishing conditions. Last month, another stocking of very aggressive feeding Florida Strain Bass were stocked into Roosevelt Lake, increasing the number of stocked fry and fingerling bass to over 1.1 million over the past three years. The submerging of artificial habitat will provide refuge for smaller fish and ambush locations for larger fish which are critical to the success of a fishery. When Roosevelt Lake water level is high, there is considerable natural habitat throughout the lake, however, during low water level years, such as the past few years, there is a minimal amount of habitat available. This requires fish to search longer and harder for food. The habitat deployment program will continue on Roosevelt Lake for several years expanding the number and locations of the structures. This successful solution has led the AZGFD to establish a warm water hatchery where Florida Strain Bass are currently being raised for release into additional Arizona lakes. The habitat structure program will also be expanded to additional lakes in the future.
Fishing conditions are good on Roosevelt Lake. The largest number of bass have spawned, although spawning can continue for several more months. Experienced anglers are targeting post-spawn fish as they feed heavily in shallow depths before returning to deeper cooler waters during the summer months. Reaction baits such as jerk-baits, spinner-baits and crank-baits are catching good numbers of bass. A sure sign that fish are transitioning into a summer pattern are the reports of bass being caught on jigs and drop-shot worms in 25 to 30 foot depths. The water level is 70% full; the water clarity is good and the temperature is in the high 60's and low 70's.
The crappie spawn is underway on Roosevelt Lake. With the improved water clarity, anglers are reporting seeing many crappie on shallow spawning flats and points. Any small grub on light line will generate a reaction from spawning crappie.
Trout fishing in Rim Country streams is excellent. The Community Fishing Program completed another extremely successful year. As that program ends, the Summer Trout Stocking Program has begun. Nearly all Rim Country trout streams are regularly being stocked and dry flies continue to be the selection of experienced fly anglers. East Verde, Haigler, Tonto Creeks are perfect Rim Country trout streams for novice and experienced anglers.
The Wild West Bass Trail (www.wildwestbasstrail.com) will be holding its Team Championship Tournament on Roosevelt Lake May 4-6. The sunrise launch of 50 teams will be a spectacular sight. The boats will be using the Cholla Ramp in the mornings and the weigh-ins on May 4th & 5th will be in the upper parking lot at Cholla. The public is welcome to attend and the best part is that it's free. The final day weigh-in of the top 10 teams will be held at Green Valley Park in Payson. There will be an expo at the park and the Junction 87 band will be entertaining the crowd starting on May 6th at 2PM. For more information on the final day weigh-in and planned activities, visit www.paysonrimcountry.com.
Have a great week of fishing and I hope to see you on the water.
Maple Pear Spice Cakes
Duncan Hines Recipe shared by:
Duncan Hines | Follow this Baker
This flavorful cake is perfect to make during the cold winter months.
Hands-On Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: 12 Mini Spice Cakes
Difficulty: Super Simple
1 package Duncan Hines® Signature Spice Cake Mix
water, oil and eggs called for on cake mix package
1 can (15 oz.) sliced pears in light syrup, drained and diced
1 container Duncan Hines® Creamy Maple Spice Frosting
1 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
ground cinnamon, for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease and flour 12-cup muffin pan. Do not use liners.
2. Combine cake mix, water, oil and eggs in large bowl with wooden spoon until blended. Set aside 12 pieces of diced pear for garnish. Stir remaining pears into batter. Pour into prepared pan. (Cups will be full)
3. Bake 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
4. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
5. Spread frosting around outside bottom third of cupcakes. Roll frosting in chopped pecans.
6. Pipe Maple Spice Frosting onto cupcakes and garnish with diced pear and dust with cinnamon.
Apple Pie Rustica
Duncan Hines Recipe shared by:
Total Time: 1 Hour
Difficulty: Super Simple
1 Package Duncan Hines® Duncan Hines Comstock® More Fruit Apple Pie Filling
1 Ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 8-inch round baking pan and line with parchment paper.
2. Unroll pie crust and line pan, leaving edges up. Spoon in apple pie filling. Fold 2-inch crust edge over filling. If desired, brush with water and sprinkle with sugar. Crust should not cover all the fruit.
3. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Cherry Dump Cake
Duncan Hines Recipe shared by:
This Dump Cake recipe is so easy, it's as simple as dumping in the ingredients. Perfect recipe for kids and no mixing involved. Give it a try!
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: Makes 12 to 16 servings.
Difficulty: Super Simple
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple with juice, undrained
1 can Duncan Hines Comstock® Country Cherry
1 package Classic Yellow Cake Mix
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 13"x 9" pan.
2. Dump pineapple with juice into pan. Spread evenly. Dump in pie filling. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over cherry layer. Sprinkle pecans over cake mix. Dot with butter.
3. Bake 50 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Blueberry Angel Food Cake Rolls
These Blueberry Cake Rolls will look so attractive displayed on your favorite platter, guests may hesitate to disturb them. Yet you won't want to resist their delightful taste.
Blueberry Angel Food Cake Rolls Blueberry Angel Food Cake Rolls
Hands-On Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: 2 Cake Rolls (about 16 slices)
Difficulty: Pretty Easy
1 package Duncan Hines® Signature Angel Food Cake Mix
Water called for on cake mix package
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 can (21 oz.) Duncan Hines Comstock® More Fruit Blueberry
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 15x10x1-inch jellyroll pans with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions with water. Evenly divide batter and pour into prepared pans.
3. Bake 15 minutes or until set. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
4. Cut two 18-inch lengths of parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar over each piece of paper. Invert cakes onto prepared papers. Roll up each cake with paper, starting from short side of cake. Cool completely.
5. Unroll cakes. Remove parchment paper. Spread each cake evenly with blueberry pie filling. Carefully reroll cakes and place seam side down on serving platter. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.