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. He was one of the first African-American artists to maintain complete creative control over his music and ownership of the master recordings. 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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