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Ray Charles
Born: September 23, 1930 in Albany, Ge
Died: June 10, 2004 in Beverly Hills, Ca
Active: '40s-2000s Major
Styles: Early R&B, Soul, Country Soul
Instrument: Vocals, Piano Representative
Albums: "Greatest Country and Western Hits", "The Birth of Soul", "Pure
Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959)" Representative
Songs: "Georgia on My Mind", "I Got a Woman", "What'd I Say"

UPC Type Title
5060283307178 (i) CD 101 Hit the Road Jack : Best of Ray Charles
8712177062294 (i) CD 23 Greatest Hits
014381232028 DVD 50 Years in Music
7798136574320 (i) CD 60's-30 Selected Songs
805520130158 (i) CD Absolutely Essential 3CD Collection
778325531034 CD Anthology
778325531027 CD Anthology 3CD Set
081227313623 (i) CD At Newport
4943674115709 (i) CD At Newport
3700226408327 CD At the Olympia
4009880277720 (i) CD Best of Ray Charles
5060143492303 (i) CD Best of Ray Charles
081227172220 (i) CD Best of the Atlantic Years
5050457068028 (i) CD Best of the Early Years
8427328040075 CD Birth of a Legend
636551003827 CD Blues Before Sunrise
883717014122 CD Blues Before Sunrise
883717014320 CD Blues Is My Middle Name
4988002441198 (i) CD Bringing Love Again: Ellie My Love
690978395057 (i) CD Brothers of Soul
4011222218902 (i) CD Can Anyone Ask for More
8712273050454 (i) CD Cc Rider
634991148825 DVD Celebrates a Gospel Christmas with the Voices
081227325558 (i) CD Charles Ray-Genius & Friends
5901384834364 (i) CD Classic Years
8712177041084 (i) CD Confession Blues
8436028696673 (i) CD Dedicated to You/Genius Sings the Blues
7798093710168 CD Definitive Antology-Trilogy
081227355623 (i) CD Definitive Ray Charles
792014300022 CD Early Years
894231174629 CD Early Years
5036408125521 (i) CD Eight Classic Albums
4988002465316 (i) CD Ellie My Love
666496442429 CD Essentials
081227976330 CD Flashback with Ray Charles
886974791225 CD Friendship
8436028697564 (i) Vinyl Genious + Soul = Jazz
075678133824 CD Genius
081227318529 CD Genius & Friends
5050457113520 (i) CD Genius + Soul = Jazz
8436028697472 (i) CD Genius + Soul = Jazz Complete 1956-60
8712177062188 (i) CD Genius + Soul = Jazz/the Genius Sings the Blues
753088000270 Vinyl Genius + Soul = Jazz
753088000263 SACD Genius + Soul = Jazz
075678173127 CD Genius After Hours/Great Ray
4943674119950 (i) CD Genius After Hours
081227352325 (i) CD Genius After Hours
741157252422 CD Genius Anthology
741157905229 CD Genius Anthology
604988016024 (i) CD Genius in Person
013431224822 CD Genius Loves Company
4988002480418 (i) CD Genius Love
4988002463855 (i) CD Genius Loves Company
187337000009 Vinyl Genius Loves Company
081227658328 (i) CD Genius of Ray Charles
081227986636 Vinyl Genius of Ray Charles
889397270612 Vinyl Genius of Ray Charles (Ltd)
821797205566 SACD Genius of Ray Charles
4943674137510 (i) CD Genius Sings the Blues
081227352424 (i) CD Genius Sings the Blues
821797133715 Vinyl Genius Sings the Blues
8436542010818 (i) Vinyl Genius Sings the Blues
821797204965 SACD Genius Sings the Blues
018111178426 CD Georgia on My Mind
076119510167 (i) CD Gold
076119810090 (i) CD Gold Album
5399827015126 (i) CD Golden Favourites
081227980627 Vinyl Great Ray Charles
741157649529 CD Greatest Hits & More
081227352523 (i) CD Hallelujah I Love Her So
4943674108138 (i) CD Hallelujah I Love Her So
805520090247 (i) CD Heart & Soul
8026575135222 (i) CD I Got a Woman
014381987829 DVD In Concert
801213907090 DVD In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony
824046200220 CD In the Beginning 1949-1952
081227270421 CD I'Ve Got a Woman
778325550325 CD Jazz Biography Series
8436028693931 (i) CD King of Soul-Classic Hits
883717014221 CD Late in the Evening
802469060829 CD Late in the Evening
8712177052868 (i) CD Legend Lives on
5014797295810 (i) CD Legend/Best of the Early Years
610583142723 CD Legends of Soul
654378043222 (i) CD Legend-the Best of the Early Years
5051503106015 CD Live
075678173226 CD Live
801213916191 DVD Live at Montreux
801213332397 Blu-Ray Live at Montreux 1997
7798014093127 (i) CD Live at the Olympia
3700226405432 (i) CD Live at the Olympia 2000
753088050015 Vinyl Live in Concert
604988026023 (i) CD Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music
603497038923 DVD O-Genio: Ray Charles Live in Brazil 1963
081227983796 CD Original Album Series
601704183107 Vinyl Porgy & Bess
888072321960 (i) CD Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters
778325962012 CD Ray
4943674055067 (i) CD Ray
081227654122 (i) CD Ray
617917203624 CD Ray Charles
5051503202328 CD Ray Charles
5022508234843 CD Ray Charles
7798141337095 CD Ray Charles Deluxe
888072348271 CD Ray Charles Forever-Deluxe Edition (CD/DVD)
893024001012 CD Ray Charles with the Voices of Jubilation Choir
788065423124 CD Ray Charles: Complete Recordings 1946-1952
8436542012706 (i) CD Ray Charles: Vol. 1-2-Modern Sounds in Country & W..
828767013527 (i) CD Ray Charles: Collections
886975364527 (i) CD Ray Charles: Collections
4943674137381 (i) CD Ray Charles Aka Hallelujah I Love Her So
4006408364498 (i) CD Ray Charles
5036408139122 (i) CD Ray Charles: Vol. 2-Seven Classic Albums
5032427151503 (i) CD Ray Charles: Vol. 5-Classic Years
801213038596 DVD Ray Charles-Live in France
893024001029 DVD Ray Charles with Voices of Jubilation Choir
827565010196 (i) DVD Ray Charles Collection
801944116259 (i) DVD Ray Charles
753088038518 Vinyl Ray Charles & Betty Carter
8436542012782 (i) Vinyl Ray Charles: Vol. 1-Modern Sounds in Country & Wes..
8436542014137 (i) Vinyl Ray Charles & Betty Carter
753088038563 SACD Ray Charles & Betty Carter
753088050060 SACD Ray Charles Live in Concert
888072300262 CD Ray Sings Basie Swin
022924112027 (i) CD Right Time-Platinum Collection
625282122020 CD Shades of a Legend
698458023827 (i) CD Simply Ray Charles
604988050622 (i) CD Singles Collection 1952-58
5013929441729 (i) CD Sinners Prayers
8427328030335 CD Sittin on Top of the World
625282110423 CD Sitting on Top of the World
8712177057917 (i) CD Six Classic Albums
604988019124 (i) CD Soul + Jazz=genius: Four Definitive Albums 1960-61
4943674120666 (i) CD Soul Brothers
711574707416 Vinyl Soul Brothers
889397274719 Vinyl Soul Brothers (Ltd)
823564617824 CD Soul Explosion 1954-1960
030309110223 CD Soul Genius
4943674120642 (i) CD Soul Meeting
693723958026 (i) CD Soul of a Man
000799431221 DVD Soul of the Holy Land: August 1973
888072316713 (i) CD Spirit of Christmas
074646909928 (i) CD Super Hits
048612701328 CD Swing Time Jive
5024952383658 (i) CD Swings the Great American Songbook
739560400028 CD Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again
5050466021823 (i) CD Times of Genius (3CD Box)
5060143490552 (i) CD Trilogy
778325404727 CD Ultimate Legends
778325325428 CD Ultimate Legends
5060143493928 (i) CD Very Best of
8436006497193 (i) CD Very Best of Ray Charles
3596972479229 (i) CD Very Best of
805520021333 (i) CD Way I Feel
805520221337 (i) CD Way I Feel
4943674137954 (i) CD What'D I Say
3700139309117 (i) CD What'D I Say
5024952266296 (i) CD What'D I Say
4011222222695 (i) CD What'D I Say (Live)
8436542014212 (i) CD What'D I Say + Hallellujah I Love Her So!
829421802907 Vinyl What'D I Say
4943674108145 (i) CD Whatd I Say
081227658427 (i) CD Yes Indeed
4943674126231 (i) CD Yes Indeed

Biography: Ray Charles was the musician most responsible for developing soul music. Singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson also did a great deal to pioneer the form, but Charles did even more to devise a new form of black pop by merging '50s R&B with gospel-powered vocals, adding plenty of flavor from contemporary jazz, blues, and (in the '60s) country. Then there was his singing; his style was among the most emotional and easily identifiable of any 20th century performer, up there with the likes of Elvis and Billie Holiday. He was also a superb keyboard player, arranger, and bandleader. The brilliance of his 1950s and '60s work, however, can't obscure the fact that he made few classic tracks after the mid-'60s, though he recorded often and performed until the year before his death.

Blind since the age of six (from glaucoma), Charles studied composition and learned many instruments at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind. His parents had died by his early teens, and he worked as a musician in Florida for a while before using his savings to move to Seattle in 1947. By the late '40s, he was recording in a smooth pop/R&B style derivative of Nat "King" Cole and Charles Brown. He got his first Top Ten R&B hit with "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" in 1951. Charles' first recordings came in for their fair share of criticism, as they were much milder and less original than the classics that would follow, although they're actually fairly enjoyable, showing strong hints of the skills that were to flower in a few years.

In the early '50s, Charles' sound started to toughen as he toured with Lowell Fulson, went to New Orleans to work with Guitar Slim (playing piano on and arranging Slim's huge R&B hit, "The Things That I Used to Do"), and got a band together for R&B star Ruth Brown. It was at Atlantic Records that Ray Charles truly found his voice, consolidating the gains of recent years and then some with "I Got a Woman," a number-two R&B hit in 1955. This is the song most frequently singled out as his pivotal performance, on which Charles first truly let go with his unmistakable gospel-ish moan, backed by a tight, bouncy horn-driven arrangement.

Throughout the '50s, Charles ran off a series of R&B hits that, although they weren't called "soul" at the time, did a lot to pave the way for soul by presenting a form of R&B that was sophisticated without sacrificing any emotional grit. "This Little Girl of Mine," "Drown in My Own Tears," "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "Lonely Avenue," and "The Right Time" were all big hits. But Charles didn't really capture the pop audience until "What'd I Say," which caught the fervor of the church with its pleading vocals, as well as the spirit of rock & roll with its classic electric piano line. It was his first Top Ten pop hit, and one of his final Atlantic singles, as he left the label at the end of the '50s for ABC.

One of the chief attractions of the ABC deal for Charles was a much greater degree of artistic control of his recordings. He put it to good use on early-'60s hits like "Unchain My Heart" and "Hit the Road Jack," which solidified his pop stardom with only a modicum of polish attached to the R&B he had perfected at Atlantic. In 1962, he surprised the pop world by turning his attention to country & western music, topping the charts with the "I Can't Stop Loving You" single, and making a hugely popular album (in an era in which R&B/soul LPs rarely scored high on the charts) with Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Perhaps it shouldn't have been so surprising; Charles had always been eclectic, recording quite a bit of straight jazz at Atlantic, with noted jazz musicians like David "Fathead" Newman and Milt Jackson.

Charles remained extremely popular through the mid-'60s, scoring big hits like "Busted," "You Are My Sunshine," "Take These Chains From My Heart," and "Crying Time," although his momentum was slowed by a 1965 bust for heroin. This led to a year-long absence from performing, but he picked up where he left off with "Let's Go Get Stoned" in 1966. Yet by this time Charles was focusing increasingly less on rock and soul, in favor of pop tunes, often with string arrangements, that seemed aimed more at the easy listening audience than anyone else. Charles' influence on the rock mainstream was as apparent as ever; Joe Cocker and Steve Winwood in particular owe a great deal of their style to him, and echoes of his phrasing can be heard more subtly in the work of greats like Van Morrison.

One approaches sweeping criticism of Charles with hesitation; he was an American institution, after all, and his vocal powers barely diminished over his half-century career. The fact remains, though, that his work after the late '60s on record was very disappointing. Millions of listeners yearned for a return to the all-out soul of his 1955-1965 classics, but Charles had actually never been committed to soul above all else. Like Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley, his focus was more upon all-around pop than many realize; his love of jazz, country, and pop standards was evident, even if his more earthy offerings were the ones that truly broke ground and will stand the test of time. He dented the charts (sometimes the country ones) occasionally, and commanded devoted international concert audiences whenever he felt like it. For good or ill, he ensured his imprint upon the American mass consciousness in the 1990s by singing several ads for Diet Pepsi. He also recorded three albums during the '90s for Warner Bros., but remained most popular as a concert draw. In 2002, he released Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again on his own Crossover imprint, and the following year began recording an album of duets featuring B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald, and James Taylor. After hip replacement surgery in 2003, he scheduled a tour for the following summer, but was forced to cancel an appearance in March 2004. Three months later, on June 10, 2004, Ray Charles succumbed to liver disease at his home in Beverly Hills, CA. The duets album, Genius Loves Company, was released two months after his death. The biopic Ray hit screens in the fall of 2010 and was a critical and commercial success, with the actor who portrayed Charles in the move, Jamie Foxx, winning the 2005 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role. Two more posthumous albums, Genius & Friends and Ray Sings, Basie Swings, appeared in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Charles' recordings began reappearing in various facsimile editions, reissues, re-masters, and box sets as his entire recorded legacy received the attention that befits a legendary American artist. ~ Richie Unterberger $ Steve Leggett, Rovi