By Rosie Moore

He was born on September 23, 1930 in Albany, Georgia, to a teenage orphan making her living as a sharecropper. Later his father abandoned them.

He started to lose his sight around the age of four or five and became completely blind at the age of seven. His younger brother drowned in his mother’s laundry tub and doctors assumed this traumatic event spurred his blindness, but later they ascertained it was caused by glaucoma.

His mother was able to enroll him at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind where he learned to play the piano by Braille.

Frank Sinatra called him “the only true genius in show business.”

Here are some interesting facts about this famous musician: In 1979 his classic rendition of “Georgia On My Mind” was approved as the official song of the state of Georgia, and he as invited to be present at the State Capital to its first performance. He was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

In recognition of both his artistic and humanitarian achievements, he received a Star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame on December 16, 1981.

Who is this “man of soul?” Ray Charles, of course. I became interested in his story in a round-about way. I received a piano for Christmas. Not a new one but a used one from my daughter’s church. I love to “strum” on it, playing the old-fashioned hymns and some new ones, and also some famous ballads from years gone by. Among my musical repertoire I found a book of Ray Charles’ songs. What a delight!

Especially during this month of February–the month of love and for lovers. While flowers, candy, Valentines and other beautiful objects depicting one’s love for another, the sad but melancholy tunes that Ray brought us must also be included. I love most of his music but my favorites songs are “Born to Lose,” “Unchained Heart” and “I Can’t Stop Lovin’ you.” His mellow tones can reach one’s heart, helping us to remember that whatever life thrusts upon us, music can calm the soul. Thank you, Ray Charles.

He passed away June 10, 2004 in Beverly Hills

Thought for the day: when love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.  John Ruskin

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