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Ray Charles Robinson

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Ray Charles Robinson

Ray Charles Robinson, more commonly known as Ray Charles (to avoid confusion with boxer Sugar Ray Robinson), was born in the southern city of Albany, GA on September 23, 1930. He was a prolific, multi-talented singer, pianist, bandleader, and composer who, when on stage captivated his audience not only by his musical ability, but also because he was a blind, African American man. He was given the nickname “the Genius” for his capability of combining the music of gospel, jazz, pop, country and rhythm and blues (R&B), known as “soul music.”

Charles began going blind at around age five, and had completely lost all eye sight by age seven. The cause of his blindness was never confirmed, but most believe it was due to glaucoma. By then, his family had moved to Greenville, FL, and Charles had already begun playing the piano. Charles’ mother never took pity on him, she began teaching him things even before he became completely blind. He never saw his being blind as a weakness, and that helped him out tremendously as a child and into adulthood. He soon began attending the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind, as a charity student, where he perfected his piano skills while learning how to play various other instruments. He also learned how to read and write music, type, and compose scores in Braille. Both of Charles parents were dead by the time he was fourteen, and at age fifteen he was orphaned and left St. Augustine to begin his professional music career. For almost two years, he played for local bands in Florida, but then he headed to Seattle, WA which has been said to be the turning point in Charles’ personal and professional career.

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Works Cited

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"Charles, Ray." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 22

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Ray Charles: The Official Site. Comp. Chad Hanson, Ira Merrill, and Raenee

Robinson. Mar. 2001. RCR Production, Inc. 22 Jan. 2005 < http://www.raycharles.com/ >.

"Ray Charles." Ed. Larry Sanger, and Jimmy Wales. Wikipedia: The Free

Encyclopedia. 15 Jan. 2001. Wikipedia Online. 22 Jan. 2005 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Charles >.

The History of Rock 'n' Roll. Comp. D K. Peneny. Mar. 1998. 22 Jan. 2005 < http://www.history-of-rock.com/ray_charles.htm >.
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