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Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 - June 10, 2004) was a one of first performers to fuse [=R&B=] and Gospel music to create {{Soul}} back in TheFifties and he exerted a major influence on the development of the RockAndRoll genre.

Losing his sight to an infection at a young age and educated in music at a school for the blind, Ray became a talented musician and multi-instrumentalist who got his start singing and playing piano and organ with {{country|Music}} and {{blues}} bands in the [[TheForties 1940s]]. Although he recorded a few minor hits, his big break came when he was signed to Atlantic Records in the early 1950s and recorded songs such as "Mess Around", "I Got A Woman", "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" and "What'd I Say", which combined raw, passionate gospel energy with boogie-influenced music and secular lyrics. While this music provoked some controversy at the time, these songs are now recognised as some of the first soul songs and established Ray as the inventor of a whole new genre.

Subsequently, he joined a major label (ABC-Paramount) and decided to explore new sounds, including {{Music/Jazz}}, {{Music/Pop}} and especially {{Music/Country}}, which earned him some of his biggest hits, including "Georgia On My Mind", "Hit the Road Jack" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" (a song which is now credited for helping to popularise country outside of its traditional audiences). Although he struggled with drug addiction and sporadic success after the 1960s, interest in his music was renewed thanks to his appearance in ''TheBluesBrothers'' in 1980 and he remained popular until his death from cancer in 2004.

Ray's influence on other singers and musicians cannot be understated; FrankSinatra called him "the only true genius" in popular music, BillyJoel was hugely influenced by his piano playing and singing, the members of Music/TheBeatles all expressed their admiration for his achievements, with PaulMcCartney crediting him as his reason for getting into music, and his song "What'd I Say" was allegedly the first song Mick Jagger performed as a member of Music/TheRollingStones.

His early life, rise to fame, dalliances with drug addiction and involvement in the civil rights movement are chronicled in the AcademyAward-winning {{Biopic}} ''Film/{{Ray}}'', released only a few months after his death. He was set to attend the premiere had he lived.

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!!Associated Tropes:

* BlindBlackGuy: If a black character is blind, expect them to be a parody of Ray (or possibly Music/StevieWonder).
* BlindMusician
* BreakthroughHit: "I Got a Woman".
* TheCoverChangesTheMeaning: The lyrics to "Georgia on My Mind" were originally written for composer Hoagy Carmichael's sister, despite it being ambiguous enough to refer to the state or a woman. After Ray made it famous as a dedication to the state of Georgia, it became the official state song.
* DanceSensation: Everybody's doing the "Mess Around".
* EruditeStoner: After kicking his heroin habit, Charles coped by smoking weed '''every day'''.
* GenrePopularizer: Either "I Got a Woman" or "What'd I Say" is considered to be this for {{Soul}}, depending on who you ask, but either way, it was Ray.
* GreatestHitsAlbum: He has several conventional greatest hits and best of sets, but several of his early albums were effectively hits collections as a result of the record industry practices in the 1950s. For example, his first "studio" album (released in 1957) incorporated hit songs he'd recorded as far back as 1953.
* IntercourseWithYou: "What'd I Say".
* LiveAlbum: 1959's ''Ray Charles at Newport'' stands alongside Music/JamesBrown's ''Live at the Apollo'' as one of the best live recordings of the early [=R&B=]/Soul era.
* OdeToIntoxication: "Let's Go Get Stoned"
* SelfDeprecation: He always had a sense of humor about his blindness. Examples include hanging a poster upside down in TheBluesBrothers, having a cameo in SpyHard as a bus driver, and doing a radio ad for some fast food sandwich saying that he felt like going out for one "so you might want to stay off the road."
* SelfTitledAlbum
* SesameStreetCred: His performance of the Muppet classic "Its Not Easy Being Green" may well be the single greatest musical moment in ''Series/SesameStreet'' history.
* SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll
* StageName: He dropped his last name so as not to be confused with the boxer "Sugar" Ray Robinson.
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