Essay about Ray Charles Robinson

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Ray Charles Robinson

Ray Charles Robinson, more commonly known as Ray Charles (to avoid confusion with boxer Sugar Ray Robinson), was born in the southern city of Albany, GA on September 23, 1930. He was a prolific, multi-talented singer, pianist, bandleader, and composer who, when on stage captivated his audience not only by his musical ability, but also because he was a blind, African American man. He was given the nickname “the Genius” for his capability of combining the music of gospel, jazz, pop, country and rhythm and blues (R&B), known as “soul music.”

Charles began going blind at around age five, and had completely lost all eye sight by age seven. The cause of his blindness was never confirmed,
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About a year later, in 1951, Charles recorded his first hit song, “Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand.” Charles’ musical style was heavily influenced by Nat King Cole and Charles Brown. But he was able to do even more with his music, and more or less created a whole new musical genre, especially after meeting musical mogul Quincy Jones, who took Charles under his wing. He drew mainstream, national attention with his performance of “I Got a Woman” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” fusing gospel with R&B and jazz. The group had a few million-seller records, and with this boost in his career, Charles was able to attain his own record deal with Atlantic Records in 1954. In 1955, Charles formed his own band, frequently backed by a group of female gospel-style singers known as the Raelettes, with whom he traveled for many years. In 1959, Charles recorded “What’d I Say” which became his own first million dollar-seller. Soon after, he left Atlantic Records for ABC Records because he felt that they wanted him to strictly be an R&B performer and weren’t willing to grow with him and his music.

By the mid 1960’s, after fighting a long, uphill battle to end his seventeen-year addiction to heroin, Charles finally regained control over his life. He started his own record label, Tangerine (later known as Crossover), and recorded some of his most famous songs “Georgia on My Mind,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and the hit pop song “Hit the Road
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