This Thursday, June 10, is the 17th anniversary of the death of Ray Charles, singer-songwriter, saxophonist and jazz and soul pianist.
Blind since childhood due to glaucoma, Ray Charles had a successful career of almost 50 years, in which he released numerous albums and singles that earned him 17 Grammy Awards.
A pioneer of soul, he is considered one of the greatest musical artists of all time. Not only for his mastery of the piano but for that characteristic booming voice with which he toured the best American stages.
He died at the age of 73 in 2004, at his home in Beverly Hills.
Charles stood out above all as the author and performer of gospel Y blues combined with a few doses of rock, and his best known song is possibly Georgia on My Mind, a tribute to the state in which he was born on September 23, 1930.
Even if Georgia on My Mind It was not his composition nor was he the first to interpret it, Charles raised the subject to a level that no other singer managed to reach.
The song, a true icon in American music, was named in 1979 the Official Song of the State of Georgia.
The jump to fame, in the 60s
The singer, who was also a great pianist, won a total of 17 Grammy Awards. The most prestigious awards in music, nine of them between 1960 and 1966.
Among the great successes of his long career – he performed his 10,000th concert at the Greek theater in Los Angeles last spring – also stand out What’d I Say, This little girl of mine O Drown in my own tears.
Ray Charles studied music composition and mastered the keyboard and the saxophone.
In order to be a musician, he overcame, in addition to the obstacle of being blind, having been orphaned at the age of 15. And growing up in the American South, still divided by racial segregation.
His first recording came in 1951, and during that decade he gradually established himself as a performer of rythm & blues.
His rise to fame came in the 60s, especially with What’d I Say, theme in which Charles combined an electric keyboard with a rock air.
Critics claim that Charles was a master at mastering traditional black music (blues Y gospel) and from there to break the molds and explore beyond its limits, for which he did not hesitate to experiment with the country -a distinctly white style- or rock.