Arts/Entertainment Spotlights

Arts/Entertainment Spotlights

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Ray Charles


Born September 23, 1930, Ray Charles Robinson. Charles was an American singer, musician, songwriter and composer. Charles was taught how to play the piano by Mr. Wylie Pitman. Pitman was the owner of the neighborhood café. After the death of his younger brother, Charles began to loose his sight due to complications from glaucoma. He was completely blind by the age of seven. Charles would go on to attend the Florida School for the deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine from 1937 to 1945. During this time Charles learned to play Classical music as well as how to read music using braille. After leaving the school, Charles moved to Jacksonville. There he played piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre in LaVilla for over a year. In 1947 Charles dropped his last name to avoid any association with boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. In March of 1948, Charles moved to Seattle where he met a 14 year old Quincy Jones. In 1949, Charles recorded his first national hit " Confession Blues". Charles combined rhythm and Blues, Blues and gospel and was often referred to as "The Genius". Charles would go on to record numerous hits including " I Got a Woman" which was his first number one hit. Charles became one of the first inductees into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ray Charles died on June 10, 2004.

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