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Ray Charles and How He Is Iconic

Ray Charles was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist who is termed an iconic figure in the music industry and a pioneer of several song genres that keep his legacy alive and up to date. The legend was born in September 1930 in Albany, Georgia, whereby up to the 1950s, he was a great icon in the entire music industry (Charles, 32). However, he grew up in Florida, and his parents moved there when he was still young. Despite him being a great person in his music career, his parents did not have any link to music since they worked in different paths, his father being a mechanic. Ray became blind when he was only seven years old due to glaucoma after his brother passed on, which was a traumatic event to go through. He enrolled in a Florida school for both physically and deaf children because he was totally blind, where he got a chance to learn musical instruments like sax, piano, and trumpet. This explains that Ray engaged in the music industry while he was very young since he was still in school; thus, his successful journey in music career began instantly. At age 15, Ray officially began his music career and began to perform in Florida, where he had already settled. He interacted with different musical groups where he could get remarkable appreciation from different people. Ray Charles, at age 73, had a hip surgery that was too critical to undertake. This made a pause in his music career journey, and months after the surgery, he was diagnosed with liver disease, and that was when he died in 2004.

Ray Charles had many life accomplishments during his musical career he was awarded many Grammy awards for his legendary music performance. For example, in 1976, he was awarded “The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award”; in 1963, 1964, and 1967, he was awarded “The Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance”; in 1961 “The Grammy Award for Best vocal performance”; and in 1994, he got the award for “world music legend award for outstanding contribution to the music industry” (Moore, 450). By the look of the great and many awards Charles received, it made him a great icon and a genius person who is termed the “father of soul music.” He was a charismatic musician who mixed different song genres like the blues, jazz, and gospel, which made him popular worldwide. His songs like “Unchain My Heart” and “I have Got A Woman” still run in the minds and hearts of people up to date. Most of the contemporary music that is harmonic even today dates back to Ray’s time, and he is the reason people love and play them for his memories.

The impact Ray Charles has had in the American culture is one of a kind and an incredible one. Despite his physical sight challenge, he is the father of different musical genres in America and also helped many artists in America whom he collaborations with until they were well known. He made a contract with Columbia in 1983 whereby his work was to record different albums for the country. He collaboration with some singers of the time like George Jones, B.J and Chet Atkins, which were such great milestones in the music career. He helped the American culture grow by incorporating both jazz and R&Bas as gospel, which made him a pillar in the entire music industry for coming up with such different genres. He gave vision to the upcoming artists of his time over the five decades he lived, thus making a record of more than 60 albums; people across the entire world bought millions of the records. The reason he could sell so many albums is because he had different music genres, and his diversity made him make such modern sounds and Western music as well. Ray Charles had a great influence on political endeavors since he was a great supporter of the “American Civil Rights Movement” (Moore et al., 68). He did a lot through his music to bring people together and give support to the civil rights of the time. In South Africa in 1981, he went to perform when there was an international boycott protest, which was not taken well by some who criticized him.

His contribution to social media and society is a great one since, during his time, he had a great influence on the 1960s teenage generation, whereby most of them discovered their hidden musical talents. Most of them followed his steps in their music career, which later made them as successful as he was. His hard work and dedication to the music journey is an incredible one that motivates motivates many individuals after going through Ray’s life history.

In conclusion, Ray Charles is an iconic figure who, through different decades, was able to embrace hard work and dedication. He never let his traumatic experiences define him and his future, like the death of his young brother and his parents. Alternatively, Ray turned out to be one of the most successful musicians in the world despite being physically challenged. He took the past challenges as a motivation towards his music career, and today, his history is recorded as a music legend who lived to work hard. He is a motivation to many generations who, up to date, listen to his song genres and embrace them. Truly, Ray Charles was a true legend and an icon in the music industry across the world.

Works Cited

Charles, Michael Ray. “In Improvisation.” Art Journal 80.3 (2021): 32-33.

Moore, Celeste Day. “Ray Charles in Paris: Race, Protest, and the Soundscape of the Algerian War.” American Quarterly 71.2 (2019): 449–472.

Moore, Leroy F., and Charles L. Hughes Jr. “The blues look like me.” Southern Cultures 29.1 (2023): 66–73.


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