Ray Charles Robinson
Ray Charles Robinson
Ray Charles: musical genius
Ray Charles is considered a musical genius in many different fields. He has a large success in pop, jazz, blues, country, gospel and western. Acknowledged as an all around-entertainer, from being an expert pianist vocalist and saxophonist. Charles started receiving popular attention in around the 1950s as the inventor of soul music. He once defined soul music,“soul music is when you are able to convey the meaning of a song and make people feel it, make them think, Oh, Ray, you must had the experience because there’s no way you could have sung that song unless it happened to you.”(Jet Magazine)
Ray Charles Robinson was born in Albany, Georgia, on September 23, 1930. His father, Bailey Robinson, was a mechanic and a handyman, and his mother Aretha, stacked boards in a sawmill. When Charles was and infant his parents moved to Greenville, Florida. While they were in Greenville a neighbor started to give Charles piano lessons after he taught himself at around the age of three. Their neighbor own a little store not far from where they lived, Charles not only took piano lessons in the juke joint, he ab sorbed the blues, jazz, and the gospel music in the juke joint “bar”. At the age of five, Charles saw his younger brother drown in the tub his mother used to do laundry, while his family went through a very difficult time during the Great Depression. About two years later Charles lost his sight to glaucoma . He once stated that his mother never allowed him to pity himself. In an interview with Jet Magazine, his mother told him: “Ok, you’re blind. Now that just means there are at least two ways to do everything. You just have to find the second way Whatever happens to you is up to you…” His mother also told him: “You’re blind, you ain’t dumb. You lost your sight, not your mind.” For nine years he attended St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind, studying composition and number of instruments.
When he left the school he worked in a number of places with many different groups in Florida area. (Salamone)“Learning to read music in Braille and play by ear helped me develop a damn good memory,”Charles said. “I can sit at me desk and write a whole arrangement in my head and never touch a piano…. There’s no reason for it to come out any different that the way it sounds in my head.” (Jet Magazine) When he was about 15 years of age, both of his parents died and Charles had graduated from school. He started playing gigs in Black dance halls and exposed himself to many different types of music, including hillbilly before he moved to Seattle.
In 1952, Charles signed with Atlantic Records in a move that greatly aided both parties. Atlantic gave him free artistic privileges, and Charles responded with many great hits. These songs have become classic rhythm and blues features: “I Got a Women”, “Hallelujah I Love her So,” “Drown on My Own Tears” and “What’d I Say”. At the time Charles described his music as “a crossover between gospel music and the rhythm patterns of the blues.” The general public did not mind, a new musical genre was born. Charles said in 1991. “I got letters from preachers saying I was bastardizing the hymns. Then the next thing I know, four or five years later it became soul music, and everybody was doing it.”(Matt Anderson) “The blasphemous idea of taking gospel songs and putting devil’s words to them. (Breznican) Before going on tour with R&B pioneer Ruth Brown, Charles dropped his last name in deference to boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and patterned himself after Nat King. It was in Seattle where Charles met a young Quincy Jones and showed the future producer and composer how to write music. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. “The battle between sin and salvation, between Saturday-night revels and Sunday-morning sanctity, rages at the heart of American popular music.” (Ben Fong Torres)
Charles was not a perfect person. His womanizing was legendary, and he had a big problem with a heroin addiction for nearly 20 years before quitting in 1965, after an arrest at the Boston airport. Charles was divorced twice and single since 1952, Charles had about12 children, 20 grandchildren