July 25, 2021

his career in 5 songs

MADRID, 10 Jun. (CulturaOcio – David Gallardo) –

Mythological icon of soul, jazz, blues and R&B, Ray Charles Robinson was leaving the world of the living on June 10, 2004 at age 73, leaving behind a immortal artistic legacy that set fire to the entire second half of the twentieth century.

The true test of an artist’s transcendence is that their music continues to sound fresh as the decades and decades continue to pass. And in the case of Ray Charles there is no doubt, well his vigorous performances still exude an overflowing vitality today.

Born in Albany (Georgia, United States), little Ray began to lose his sight at the age of 5, going completely blind at 7. Despite the limited resources of his family, this blindness allowed him enter the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, where he was musically hardened between 1937 and 1945.

The foundations were already in place and they looked robust, but now there was the always-difficult struggle to gain a foothold in the music industry. Thanks to his ardent talent, Ray quickly began a musical career that we are now trying to condense into just 5 songs.


At just 17 years old, Ray left Florida in search of opportunities and decided to try Seattle. Soon They began recording for the Down Beat label as a member of the Maxin Trio with guitarist GD McKee and bassist Milton Garrett.. Thus came the first hit in 1949 with ‘Confession Blues’, a song that reached second place on the R&B charts.

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In 1953 became an Atlantic Records artist, which was a huge qualitative leap and made him a popular figure in no time. en todo Estados Unidos, gracias a canciones como ‘I got a woman’, ‘It should have been me’, ‘Don’t you know’, ‘Midnight hour’, ‘Sinner’s prayer’ y ‘Mess around’.

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WHAT’D I SAY (1959)

This classic arose in a session of pure improvisation of Ray accompanied by his band and his backup singers. Almost without realizing it, they were all breaking boundaries by mixing gospel, jazz, blues, and Latin music. It was the first hit for a Ray who was 27 years old at the time on the general American sales charts (not the genre charts, that is).

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After ending his contract with Atlantic, Ray Charles received a succulent offer from ABC-Paramount Records. With them the sixties went with more creative freedom and hits like ‘Georgia on my Mind’ and ‘Hit the road Jack’ soon followed. The latter was composed by Percy Mayfield and climbed to number 1 on the Billboard chart. It also won the Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording.

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Although his commercial success waned after the seventies (personal problems and the arrival of new generations) Ray was forever now a key figure in American (and world music, by extension). A checkered career in which he actually enjoyed recognition of his life legend status.

His last album, published a few weeks after his death, ‘Genius loves company’, endorsed this status by having duetos con ilustres como Natalie Cole, Elton John, James Taylor, Norah Jones, B.B. King, Gladys Knight, Diana Krall, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson and Bonnie Rait. The album won 8 Grammy Awards, two of which went to this version with Norah Jones of the single originally recorded by Ray in 1967. A farewell in style.

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