Ray Charles

Heavily influenced by Nat King Cole, the incredible, irreplaceable Ray Charles would become influence himself on countless musicians who emulated his special style of blues mixed with the emotional gospel sound on which he was raised. Hailed as "The Genius" and "The Father of Soul" throughout his internationally successful career, Charles lost his sight by the age of six and learned to play many instruments at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind. Beginning his career in the 1940s when he toured the Deep South with a variety of musical acts, he formed his own band in the 1950s and achieved some of his greatest successes during the early '60s. Throughout his life and career, which included live and recorded collections, concerts all over the world, charity and fund-raising events and even television commercials, Charles faced the vicissitudes with equanimity and paved a pathway as mentor and legend. In June of 2004, Ray Charles died at home, surrounded by family and friends. He was 73.

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