Ray Charles Robinson, 23 September 1930, Albany, Georgia, USA, d. 10 June 2004, Beverly Hills, California, USA. Few epithets sit less comfortably than that of genius; Ray Charles held this title for over 40 years and he was a true musical genius. As a singer, composer, arranger and pianist, his prolific work deserved no other praise.
Born in extreme poverty in Georgia, Ray Charles Robinson grew up in Greenville, Florida. He was slowly blinded by glaucoma until, by the age of seven, he had lost his sight completely. Earlier, he had been forced to cope with the tragic death of his brother, whom he had seen drown in a water tub. He learned to read and write music in Braille and was proficient on several instruments by the time he left school. His mother Aretha died when Ray was 15, and he continued to have a shared upbringing with Mary Jane (the first wife of his absent father). Dropping his surname in deference to the boxing champion Sugar Ray...
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