Essay about Ray Charles

2792 Words Apr 16th, 2005 12 Pages
Ray Charles

The Life and Legacy of a Genius

Ray Charles was a revolutionary pianist and a soul singer who helped shape the sound of rhythm and blues. He brought a soulful sound to everything from country music to pop standards to "God Bless America." His birth name was Ray Charles Robinson, but he shortened it when he entered show business to avoid confusion with the famous boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. I chose Ray Charles as the topic for my paper after seeing the movie Ray. After viewing this film I realized that there was a lot of interesting information about Ray Charles that I had never heard about. Therefore, the focus of my paper is to learn who Ray Charles really was and to discuss his life and achievements.
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Hits, hits, and more surrounded the middle years of Ray Charles's life. His first hit in this mode was "Mess Around," which was based on the 1929 classic "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" by Pinetop Smith. He had another hit with the rap like urban jive of "It Should Have Been Me." His career went into high gear with the gospel drive of "I Got A Woman" in 1955. The rest of his next few hit records were, "This Little Girl of Mine," "Drown in my Own Tears," "Hallelujah I Love Her So," and "Lonely Avenue." Half of these songs were gospel songs converted with secular lyrics and the other half were from blues ballads. Charles was criticized for singing gospel songs with secular lyrics but this did not stop him. There is a long tradition of putting religious lyrics to popular songs and vice versa. For example, Thomas A Dorsey, one of the founders of gospel music also had a significant career in secular music. Little Richard and Solomon Burke also moved freely between the two styles. Ray Charles's fame and success began to grow. After an appearance at the New Post Jazz Festival he achieved mainstream success with " (The Night Time is) The Right Time" and his signature song, "What'd I Say." The essence of this phase in his career can be heard on his live album, Ray Charles in Person. This album was recorded before a mostly African American audience in Atlanta in 1958. This album also

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