Ray Charles

Born 23 September 1930. Died 10 June 2004.

soul musician, singer and songwriter

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Ray Charles is inducted into Michael Ball's Singers Hall of Fame

Radio 2 listener Bernie White picks Ray Charles for Michael Ball's Singers Hall of Fame

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Biography

Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004) was an American singer-songwriter, musician and composer known as Ray Charles. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records. He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his Modern Sounds albums. While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company. Frank Sinatra called Charles "the only true genius in show business", although Charles downplayed this notion.

The influences upon his music were mainly jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, and country artists of the day such as Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, Louis Jordan, Charles Brown, and Louis Armstrong. His playing reflected influences from country blues, barrelhouse and stride piano styles.

Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on their list of "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" in 2004, and number two on their November 2008 list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time". In honoring Charles, Billy Joel noted: "This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley."

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BBC Reviews

  1. Review of Genius: The Ultimate Collection

    Genius: The Ultimate Collection 2010

    Reviewed by Martin Longley
    An uncomplicated package for the uninitiated.
  2. Review of Ray

    Ray 2004

    Reviewed by Simon Morgan
    In terms of the sounds that sired soul, Ray is - as Ray was - definitely where its at.
  3. Review of Ray Charles

    Ray Charles 1957

    Reviewed by David O'Donnell
    It holds many of his most enduring classics.