Thursday, February 12, 2009
Ray Charles - What'd I Say
Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), known by his stage name Ray Charles, was an American pianist, singer, and songwriter who shaped the sound of rhythm and blues. He brought a soulful sound to country music and pop standards through his Modern Sounds recordings, as well as a rendition of "America the Beautiful" that Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes called the "definitive version of the song, an American anthem — a classic, just as the man who sung it." Frank Sinatra called him "the only true genius in the business".
In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Charles number ten on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and also voted him number two on their November 2008 list of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
Ray Charles was not born blind, he started to lose his sight around the age of five. He was rendered totally blind by the age of seven. Charles never knew exactly why he lost his sight, though there are sources that suggest his blindness was due to glaucoma, and some other sources suggest that Ray began to lose his sight from an infection caused by soapy water to his eyes which was left untreated. He attended school at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine, Florida. He also learned how to write music and play various musical instruments. While he was there, his father died when he was ten followed by his mother five years later.
In 1959, Charles crossed over to top 40 radio with the release of his impromptu blues number, "What'd I Say", which was initially conceived while Charles was in concert. The song would reach number 1 on the R&B list and would become Charles' first top ten single on the pop charts, peaking at number 6. Charles would also record The Genius of Ray Charles, before leaving Atlantic for a more lucrative deal with ABC Records in 1959.
Hit songs such as "Georgia On My Mind" (US #1), "Hit the Road Jack" (US #1) and "Unchain My Heart" (US #9) helped him transition to pop success and his landmark 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 mainstream of music. He also had major pop hits in 1963 with "Busted" (US #4) and "Take These Chains From My Heart" (US #8), and also scoring a Top 20 hit four years later, in 1967, with "Here We Go Again" (US #15) (which would later be duetted with Norah Jones in 2004).