Born September 23, 1930, Ray Charles Robinson would become one of the most famous and influential pianists in the twentieth century. Though he was blind from about the age of seven, he was able to learn how to play and compose music at a school he attended for the deaf and blind. Originally from Greenville, Florida, Ray Charles would become well-known for the many different genres he played in, including Rhythm and blues, country blues, piano blues, pop, soul, country, jazz and gospel, to name a few. He would shorten his name to Ray Charles and would continue to have many hits throughout his musical career.
Though many people may not realize it, Ray Charles was not born blind. It wasn’t until he was seven that he would completely lose his sight. It is thought that his sight could have been lost due to glaucoma, but even today no one is sure. After this, he attended a school for the deaf and blind where he spent much of his time learning how to write music and play many musical instruments, aside from his academic learning. In 1951, Ray Charles had his first successful hit and would sign with Atlantic records in 1952. From there, he would continue to have many more hits and his reputation in the world of music would grow as well. In later years, he was putting out songs that were either a success or not, and he made appearances on film and commercials. Ray Charles was also known for singing and he did vocals for a few different projects as well. Some of his career may have been a little bumpy, as he was not perfect and did have addictions that he later dealt with, but none of this stopped him from becoming a man who will continue to be remembered by history. Much of his difficulties are overlooked by those who continue to enjoy his music.
Today, his music is still being listened to by young audiences, including many young musicians who dream of having a musical successful musical career. He may have been blind, but this did not stop him from becoming one of the many influential musicians of the late 1900s. He was also quite dynamic in that he wrote, played and saying many different genres in music. He was not one to be limited by his lack of sight and he was obviously also not to be limited to one or two specific genres in music. Music was what he loved and he was quite experimental in it, which could also be another reason for his playing and composing pieces in so many different genres.
Ray Charles was 74 when he passed away of liver cancer. He had a long and successful musical career that will be remembered by many for a very long time. The diversity of his work will continue to entertain audiences long into the future, especially as long as the recordings of his music are on the shelves. For any new musician looking for some inspiration, especially in rhythm and blues or jazz, Ray Charles is definitely one of the musicians whose work will be listened to with a keen ear.