Ray Charles Photography

Ray Charles

Some call him “The Genius” and others “The High Priest of Soul,” but no matter the nickname, Ray Charles was a legend who refused to be categorized. He started out as an R&B singer in the 1950s, but was just as proficient in gospel, blues, country and pop music right up until his passing in 2004.

This blind singer/songwriter/piano prodigy wasn’t just a creative marvel, but also an unrivaled businessman as one of the first African-American artists to gain complete creative control. The results found songs such as “Hit the Road Jack,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “What’d I Say” and “I’ve Got a Woman” racing up the charts and enduring throughout the ages.

Charles may no longer reside on this earth, but starting with 2004’s biopic Ray and the following year’s duets disc Genius & Friends, he’s still a red-hot star. Perhaps fellow piano man and collaborator Billy Joel put it best to Rolling Stone magazine, saying, “this may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley.”

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