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Ray Charles

Ray Charles was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer often referred to as “The Genius.” Charles was blinded during childhood due to glaucoma. He pioneered the soul music genre during the 1950s by combining blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic, contributing to the integration of country music, rhythm and blues, and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, notably with his two Modern Sounds albums. While he was with ABC, Charles became one of the first black musicians to be granted artistic control by a mainstream record company. Charles had multiple singles reach the Top 40 on various Billboard charts: 44 on the US R&B singles chart, 11 on the Hot 100 singles chart, 2 on the Hot Country singles charts. He had a lifelong friendship and occasional partnership with Quincy Jones. Frank Sinatra called Ray Charles “the only true genius in show business,” although Charles downplayed this notion. Billy Joel said, “This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley”. Charles is a 17-time Grammy Award winner. He was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987; 10 of his recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2002, Rolling Stone ranked Charles No. 10 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time,” and No. 2 on their list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” in 2008.

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