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Ray Charles

Ray Charles

Ray Charles was one of the most successful musicians in the world. But we have one question:

Just what the heck kind of musician was Ray?

True he's named as one of the pioneers of the soul music. We can't deny that.

But then what about the other types of songs he'd sing? He'd pick out songs from anywhere - Stephen Foster, the Big Bands, Country and Western, Rhythm and Blues, and even the Beatles.

Ray had been playing professionally since the age of 15 after his mother died (his dad had died five years before). Ray never seemed to have trouble finding work, although his early years as a professional were by no means easy. But at least by the time he was 20 he was cutting platters. He also solidified his reputation as an arranger when his version of "The Things I Used to Do" written for Eddie Jones (known professionally as Guitar Slim) became a million-copy seller.

In 1959, Ray recorded his song "What'd I Say", but the lyrics were considered "improper" by the mainstream (i. .e, white) audience - at first the major radio stations refused to play it. However, the record slowly began to move it's way up on the charts. Eventually it was Ray's first million copy record, and today we listen to the song and wonder what the problem was.

By 1962 Ray had his (first) "Greatest Hits" album. The same year his album - Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music - also hit a million in sales. Yes, whatever kind of musician Ray was, he did all right.