Ray Charles (born Ray Charles Robinson, 23.9.1930 - 10.6.2004)
Ray Charles was an American singer, composer and pianist. N
Net worth: Ray Charles had an estimated $100 million net worth before his death. (Celebrity Net Worth)
Childhood: Ray Charles Robinson was born in Albany, Georgia on 23rd September 1930. Ray's father, Bailey Robinson, was a railroad repair man, and his mother, Aretha Williams, was a sawmill worker. It was the Great Depression and times were hard for a black family living in the South. The family moved to Greenville in Florida, but Bailey was rarely present, leaving Aretha to bring up the family alone. A series of tragedies followed. At the age of five, Ray witnessed his younger brother, George, drown in a laundry tub. Ray also began to lose his sight, possibly due to glaucoma, and was completely blind by the age of seven. Supported by his mother, Ray learned to cope with his sight loss and to be independent. Ray left home and became a student at the school for the deaf and blind in St. Augustine, Florida. When Ray was fifteen his mother died, followed two years later by his father. At school Ray received a formal musical education and learned to read, write and arrange music in Braille; score for big bands; and play piano, organ, sax, clarinet, and trumpet. His influences ranged from the jazz and big band sounds of Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington and Louis Jordan, to blues, classical, hillbilly, and gospel music. While playing in one of his first bands, The Florida Playboys, Ray began wearing his trademark sunglasses.
Musical Career: On leaving school Ray toured the South, playing black dance halls with bands, before moving to Seattle, Washington in 1947. Ray's early musical career was fashioned after Nat King Cole, evident in some of his first recordings such as Walkin' and Talkin' and All to Myself Alone. In 1949 Ray had his first hit with Confession Blues, released on Swingtime Records. After signing to Atlantic in 1952, Charles celebrated his first number one in the R&B singles chart, I Got a Woman, which catapulted him to fame in America. The single featured on Ray Charles' self-titled debut album, released in 1957. By this time Charles' singing style was unique, containing elements of gospel, a style which would later feed into soul. More R&B hits followed and Ray recruited a girl group from Philadelphia to be his backing band. They changed their name to the Raelettes and began recording with Charles in New York. During this time, Charles also became popular with jazz fans, playing at the Newport Jazz festival and recording two highly acclaimed records. Ray Charles released his breakthrough single, What'd I Say, in July 1959. The song crossed over to Top 40 radio and reached number six in the US pop chart. By the late 1950s Ray Charles was referred to as The Genius, with his final album for Atlantic aptly titled Genius Sings the Blues. Ray signed to ABC Paramount in 1959 and released a string of hit singles including Hit the Road Jack, Unchain My Heart, and Georgia On My Mind which earned Charles two Grammy Awards in 1960, and was declared official song of the state of Georgia in 1979. In 1962 Charles formed Ray Charles Enterprises and opened studios and offices in Los Angeles. Always broadening his musical oeuvre, and now using orchestras and choruses for his recordings, Ray Charles' landmark 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music stayed at number one on the Billboard Pop Album chart for over three months, ushering country music into the mainstream. Volume Two was swiftly released, spawning the hits You Are My Sunshine and Your Cheating Heart. Charles also enjoyed major pop hits on ABC with Crying Time and Together Again. Charles began appearing in films and recorded soundtracks for The Cincinnati Kid (1965) and In the Heat of the Night (1967). During his time on parole after kicking his drug habit, Charles kept a reduced profile and his musical output was patchy but by 1969 he was back touring the nightclub circuit. Charles left ABC Records and released My Kind Of Jazz (1970) on his Tangerine label, with long-time friend Quincy Jones. It contained Charles' last pop chart hit, Booty Butt. The 1970s saw Charles collaborate with Randy Newman and Stevie Wonder, as well as English vocalist Cleo Laine with whom he recorded Porgy & Bess in 1976. Charles returned to Atlantic Records and released four albums between 1977 and 1980. In the 1980s Charles shifted to Columbia Records and back to country music, working with George Jones and Willie Nelson. Charles made a cameo appearance in The Blues Brothers and also appeared at two Presidential inaugurations. Ray's renewed fame led to guest vocals on tracks such as I'll Be Good to You (1990), with Chaka Khan, and he released eleven albums between 1983 and 1996. Up until his death, Ray continued to make concert and television appearances, like the peace concert in Rome's Colosseum in 2002. Prior to his death, Charles had recorded an album of duets, entitled Genius Loves Company, featuring Norah Jones, Van Morrison, and Gladys Knight, amongst others. It was released in August 2004, reaching number one in the Billboard 200 and claiming eight Grammy Awards. Three more posthumous albums were released: Genius & Friends (2005), Ray Sings, Basie Swings (2006) and Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters (2010).
Personal life: Ray Charles married his first wife Eileen Williams in 1951, but they soon divorced the following year. His second wife was Della Beatrice Howard Robinson, to whom he was married between 1955 and 1977 and had three children: Ray Charles, Jr., David and Robert. At the time of his death, he was in a relationship with Norma Pinella. Ray had a further nine children to several different women: his first child was Evelyn, born to Louise Mitchell in 1950. During his marriage to Della he had an affair with Raelettes singer Margie Hendricks, with whom he had a son named Charles Wayne in 1959. He also had an affair with Mae Mosely Lyles resulting in a daughter named Raenee in 1961. He had another daughter, Sheila Raye Charles Robinson, by Sandra Jean Betts in 1963, and yet another named Alicia, by an unidentified woman in 1966. He followed that with Alexandra by Chantal Bertrand. His next son was Vincent, with whom he welcomed with Arlette Kotchounian; his girlfriend following his second divorce. His last two children were Robyn, born to Gloria Moffett, and Ryan Corey born to Mary Anne den Bok in 1987. Ray suffered from heroin addiction in his youth, which saw him arrested for possession twice: in 1961 and 1964. He enjoyed chess as a hobby, using a special board for blind people. He passed away in 2004 having succumbed to liver cancer.
It was the last 'In Performance at The White House' of Obama's presidency, and featured performances from Usher and Demi Lovato.
Despite his grave assurances that he would NOT be singing at the start of the evening, President Obama couldn’t help but be swept along at a star-studded tribute event for the music of Ray Charles at the White House.
Paying tribute to the late singer, who died in 2004, the President led the crowd in a sing-a-long during filming the final episode of the current series of ‘In Performance at The White House’ on Wednesday (February 25th), and the last such event of his presidency.
The Ray Charles tribute evening was the last of Obama's 'In Performance at The White House' series
U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to Ray Charles at a White House concert honouring the late musician on Wednesday night (24Feb16).
The American leader and his wife Michelle hosted performances of Charles' songs from artists including Usher and Demi Lovato at the Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at The White House event.
In his speech as host, Obama praised the Georgia On My mind singer, who lost his sight as a child, as one of his favourite artists of all time.
"Whatever genre of music he was playing, there was no mistaking his singular sound: that virtuoso piano playing that matched that one-of-a-kind voice," he said.
Continue reading: Barack Obama Hails Ray Charles At Tribute Concert
Usher and Demi Lovato are heading to the White House to perform in a musical celebration of the late Ray Charles.
Gospel singer and actress Yolanda Adams, country rockers The Band Perry, soul singer Leon Bridges, R&B jazz musician Andra Day and singer-songwriter-producer Anthony Hamilton will be joining the line-up for the Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at The White House event, it was announced on Friday (19Feb16).
Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard, veteran soul singer Sam Moore and Empire star Jussie Smollett are also due to take part in the occasion, to be held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday (24Feb16). In addition, the show will be broadcast on Friday (27Feb16) on the PBS network across the U.S., a White House representative confirmed.
It will be the 16th such event held while President Barack Obama has been in office. Prior to Wednesday evening's celebration, First Lady Michelle Obama will hold a daytime workshop with some of the artists, for more than 130 school and college pupils from across the country.
Continue reading: Usher And Demi Lovato Join White House Tribute To Ray Charles
Veteran Singer/songwriter Van Morrison Has Slammed Today's R&b Stars, Insisting The Music They Release Cannot Compare To The Classics From The 1960s.
The reclusive Northern Irish singer insists modern singers don't know what real R&B is.
He tells the Sunday Mail newspaper, "I can't relate to it now, what they call R&B. It doesn't have any blues. To me, it is very unrhymitic. It's very robotic. That's what happens, the words take on different meanings after a while. It's like the word spiritual. What does that mean? It could mean anything now....
Chuck Berry and Peter Sellars are to receive the 2014 and 25th anniversary Polar Music Prize in Sweden later this year.
Chuck Berry and Peter Sellars will receive the 2014 Polar Music Prize.
Rock 'n' roll legend Berry, 87, and American opera and theatre director Sellars, 56, will both be presented with the prestigious accolade by King Carl XVI of Sweden at a gala ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden on August 26.
The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by ABBA's lyricist and manager Stig ''Stikkan'' Anderson to ''break down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music'', and this year's ceremony - which will take place in Stockholm's Concert Hall - will mark the award's 25th anniversary.
Continue reading: Chuck Berry And Peter Sellars To Receive Polar Music Prize
The Holding Back The Years singer, who recently fronted the reformed Faces for a handful of shows, will release American Soul in October (13), preceded by new single That's How Strong My Love Is - a cover of Redding's 1965 hit.
He tells Billboard.com, he has always been a big fan of the tune: "The song never seemed to go away and I was reminded of it over the years by covers of it from the likes of Candi Staton and the (Rolling) Stones. I guess its power and universal appeal lies in the simplicity of its message.
Continue reading: Mick Hucknall Covers Soul Classics On First Solo Album
Tom Odell wishes the piano was considered a ''cool'' instrument and is determined to prove people's perceptions wrong.
Tom Odell wants to prove the piano can be rock 'n' roll.
The BRIT Award-winning singer has lamented the fact his instrument of choice isn't considered as ''cool'' as the guitar and hopes he can change people's perceptions of it.
He told the Daily Star newspaper: ''I think the piano is just as rock 'n' roll. You look back to Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, [Sir] Elton [John] in his early days, Billy Joel, those guys were f***ing cool - the way they played the piano and the amount you can do with the piano. I stand up now and give it hell.''
Continue reading: Tom Odell: Piano Can Be Rock 'n' Roll
Claude Nobs, the founder of the Montreux jazz festival, has died, following a ski accident, which resulted in him being in a coma for several weeks.
The Guardian reports that Nobs was cross-country skiing in the village of Caux, near to Montreux and Lake Geneva. His accident happened on Christmas Eve (2012), the festival’s secretary general Mathieu Jaton confirmed on Monday (January 7, 2013).
Claude – who was aged 76 when he died – began the legendary and highly respected festival back in 1967, whilst he worked at the tourism office at the Swiss resort. Some of the world’s biggest stars have played at the festival, including Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan and Prince. He’s not been afraid of taking risks and potentially upsetting the jazz fraternity; last year, the ‘love her or hate her’ singer Lana Del Rey was one of the lead artists performing at the festival. His renown amongst musicians is widespread and Deep Purple even immortalised the man in song, referring to him as ‘Funky Claude’ in their song ‘Smoke on the Water.’
Continue reading: Montreux Jazz Festival's Claude Nobs Dies After Ski Accident Coma
Guitarist Mickey Baker has died. He was 87.
The musician passed away at his home near Toulouse, France, last week (27Nov12). His cause of death was heart and kidney failure.
Continue reading: Guitarist Mickey Baker Dies
In total, 27 tunes will be inducted into the museum during the 40th Anniversary Celebration in February (13).
They include Ac Dc's Back In Black, Frank Sinatra's recording of Theme from New York, New York, Piano Man by Billy Joel and Ray Charles' Hit The Road Jack.
Continue reading: Billy Joel & Ac/dc To Be Honoured At Grammy Hall Of Fame Celebration
Richard Schiff, Bill Nye, James Cromwell, Joely Fisher, Ray Charles and Richard Greene - Richard Schiff, Ray Charles Jr., James Cromwell, Joely Fisher, Bill Nye and Richard Greene Friday 24th August 2012 ,
Date of birth
30th September, 1930
Date of death
10th June, 2004