Ray Charles, a pioneer in the world of soul music, was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as being in the top 10 of the 100 greatest artists of all time. He created music that ranged in style from rhythm and blues and gospel to blues. In addition, he was a key figure in the integration of country and pop music in the 1960 and had a great deal of crossover success.
When Charles was recording with ABC Records, he became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company. Frank Sinatra referred to Charles as “the only true genius in show business.”
Born in Albany, Georgia, Charles started to lose his sight at the age of five and was completely blind by the age of seven a result of glaucoma. His 1954 composition, “I Got a Woman” became a number-one R&B hit and brought him to national prominence. In April 1979, his version of “Georgia on My Mind” was proclaimed the state song of Georgia. He died in 2004 of liver failure at the age of 73 at his home in Beverly Hills, California.
BET National News - Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)