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Friday, September 23, 2011
Happy 81st Birthday Ray Charles
I am from Atlanta Georgia and the sound,sight and name Ray Charles can send me right back home. The vision of seeing PBS sign off its nightly broadcast to the sounds of him singing "Georgia on My Mind" while the gentle lapping of coastal Georgia seashore picture fades to static on the TV set.
I don't care how much bad stuff Ray Charles ever did...I just know that he warms my heart and memories whenever I hear his music. Any of his shortcoming are for outweighed by the comfort and peace that his voice and piano brings to me. After seeing Jamie Fox lay out Ray's life on the big screen how can you not at least respect and applaud the man for all his successes and the simple fact that he,a black and blind man, made it out of the south in one piece to thrive and contribute to our culture.
Imagine how scared as a boy he must have been to be six in 1936 and lose his sight after being able to see and all the while dealing with being black in rural south. Many with more opportunity have done far less.
Most would not consider blindness a blessing,but for a black child in 1936 at the age of six it may have been the best thing to happen to Ray. He had the opportunity to go to Florida School For The Deaf And The Blind where he received a comprehensive education, was taught Braille and learned piano. Who knows what kind of regular public education he would have received if not blind. There are thousand of details about Ray Charles' life including all his numerous philanthropic actions that can be read about here at his website.
As far as the music...well...a must have record of Ray Charles is his Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. One of my favorites on the album is "It Makes No Difference Now." It was one of those concepts for an album like Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison or The Who's Tommy that at the time the vision could only be seen by the artist as genius.
Not only is "What I'd Say" the #10 song spot on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of All Time but it is one of only 300 songs catalogued in the United States Recording Registry because of its cultural significance.
"Still in peaceful dreams I see, the road leads back to you." Happy Birthday, Ray.