Thursday, 15 February 2024 01:42

WYNN - The Mega Star Series - Ray Charles

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SW small Logo You may not know much about Ray Charles as he was from a different era.  But his career spanned many musical era's and generations. Charles transcended all musical styles and he's hard to categorize. But his contribution to country music is absolutely undeniable.  His biggest gift was he brought country music mainstream and introduced it to millions of new fans.  In fact his contribution to all music is incredible, and is as big as anyone's - ever.  Ray Charles reached the top of every mountain he ever climbed, and he is the sheer definition of a Mega Star.

Iconic Version Of An Incredible Song 


Charles had a couple of stints in country music, the first one in the early 1960's with his album Genius Hits The Road.  Sounds dated right?  But the #1 song, Georgia On My Mind doesn't.  You've heard him sing that song in movies, TV commercials and TV specials your whole life, but you may not have known who it was.  His version is simply incredible. He also struck it big with the albums Modern Sounds Of Country And Western Music (Vol 1 & 2)  in the same era.  I Can't Stop Loving You  is a staple in our society, and was a big country hit.  Charles loved country music for its stories as he was a stellar story teller.

This Country Hit Is Honored Everywhere


He took about a 20 year break from country music before returning with the 3/4 Time and the Friendship albums and had more success.  Seven Spanish Angels with Willie Nelson went #1, and his music was loved by fans and all the academies. Charles' styles can't really be pinpointed to one format.  He was country, folk, gospel, blues, rock, jazz, and is one of greatest vocalists that we have ever had in entertainment.   The Friendship  album was a huge success going #1 on the charts, and finished the year as the #5 Country album of the year 1985 -  it's wonderful.

A Big Number One With Willie Nelson


Charles who was blind since age 7 (glaucoma)  would go on to begin the integration of country music, and is a hero in that regard.  He paved the way for Charley Pride who came slightly later.  He also became one of the most recognizable singers of any era, and influenced everyone from Elvis to Billy Joel to hundreds of future country stars and others from every other style of music.  He is a 18 time Grammy Winner after being nominated for 37 (that 47% percentage of winning is amazing)  and was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.  When he returned to country in 1983 there was great buzz about it, as the contemporaries lined up to record with him on the Friendship album.

 Friendship Album  - With Mickey Gilley  - Song Was Loved


Ray Charles is the kind of singer and entertainer who doesn't really exist anymore.  He was very popular with about everyone, had massive TV exposure and was a powerful presence on stage.  He did more than sing songs, he lived them, felt them, and became immersed in them.  Charles would go on to be as passionate of a singer as entertainment ever had.  He was a song's best friend and advocate.  Ray Charles is the kind of performer and singer you have to experience to understand the depth of what he was.  I'm going to include a live performance in this article to illustrate what he was to a song, and how he approached performing.

Grammy Nominated Country In 1984 From The 3/4 Time Album  - This Live Version Is Sensational


Born To Love Me  (above) lost to Lee Greenwood's I.O.U. song at the Grammy's that year.  Charles recorded great music and was heavily influential to us and all music.  He sold millions of albums worldwide and has fan bases everywhere.  We were lucky to have him for the time(s) we did.  He brought many new fans to our format and gave us remarkable credibility - both times.

With Hank Jr.  - Friendship Album  -  #14 Hit Song


Ray Charles died in 2004 from liver ailments.  In addition to the great music, he knocked down barriers that no one else dared to.  He took a large stand during the Civil rights Movement in the south. His professional and personal life was certainly adventurous.  Some legal troubles, substance abuse, a couple of marriages, and is a 12-time father.  He also did much work for charity donating some 20 million dollars to schools for the blind and deaf over many years.

Classic - Of Course - You've Heard This Somewhere!


He was an American treasure and what is certain, there will never, ever be another -  Ray Charles.

For More On Black History Month click here for more information from our sister station (WAKR)

Last Week - Mega Star - Charley Pride

Forgotten Jukebox - Last week - Seven Spanish Angels

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Read 961 times Last modified on Thursday, 15 February 2024 04:20