Blues is a form of secular folk music created by African Americans in the early 20th Century, in the South. Blues can be categorized as Delta Blues, Country Blues, Down-home Blues, Urban Blues, Harmonica Blues, etc. Some notable blues artists include Ma Rainey, B.B King, Muddy Waters, and Ray Charles.
This post will explore the life and influence of pioneer Ray Charles.
Ray Charles Robinson Sr., also known simply as Ray Charles or “The Genius”, was a singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. He explored many genres during his career including Blues, R&B, Gospel, Jazz, and Rock and Roll. “Brother Ray”, as he preferred to be called, started his music career in the 1950s.
Brother Ray’s uniqueness was that he was blind. He became blind during childhood, due to glaucoma. However, this obstacle never stopped his ability to make a tremendous impact on the world, the Black community, and most importantly the music industry.
Charles is known for his integration of country music, R&B, and pop music during the 1960s, which has contributed to the way music has transitioned over the years.
Ray Charles was first signed to Atlantic Records, then later signed to ABC Records. During his time with ABC Records, he became one of the first black artists to granted artistic control by a mainstream record company. This demonstrates just how talented he was.
In the 1960s, Charles released notable songs titled “I Believe To My Soul”, “Hit The Road Jack”, and “Georgia On My Mind”. “Georgia On My Mind” was his first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Charles went on to have multiple singles reach the Top 40 Charts. Songs like these let Charles to receiving the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts, the Polar Music Prize, and even a building named after him on Morehouse College’s campus.
Ray Charles’s influence is still present today. His music has been sampled by many artists. Kanye West sampled his song “I’ve Got A Woman” in his hit song “Gold Digger”. His song “I Believe In My Soul” even turned into a TikTok trend. His talent and influence was so pivotal that his story had to be told in a biopic, starring Jamie Foxx.