Ray Charles Robinson was a Soul Music pioneer who was placed on the planet to sing and thank God he followed the path of his GiftRay began losing his eyesight at age 5 and went completely blind by the age of 7.  But this article is meant to be an appreciation for Ray’s uncanny ability to make any song he sang his own.  He always sang with absolute sincerity, no matter the subject.  At a time when it was hard for people of color to feel good about America, he sang “America The Beautiful” and made you feel uncomfortably patriotic.  Ray Charles could sing anything and make you love it.  Sure, he had his share of hit songs like “Hit The Road Jack,” that are distinctly associated with him but this article isn’t about his Hits.  This article is about the cutesy, fun, tear jerking songs, mostly hits by other artists, that Ray customized to fit himself to a tee.  This article is a handful of the songs that are proof positive that Ray Charles NEVER MET A SONG HE COULDN’T MAKE HIS OWN.  Enjoy!

I didn’t want to see Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder perform together because they were both blind… I wanted to see them perform together because they were both blind and two of the best to ever entertainMotown released the Tribute To Uncle Ray album by 12 year old Little Stevie Wonder; his 2nd album.  There were no big hits from this album but it forever connected Stevie and Ray in my mind.  Ray Charles, in turn, covered Stevie’s ’73 song, “Living For The City,” on his ’75 Renaissance album… thus peaking my curiosity even more… what would it be like to see these two GENIUSES together on stage.  Well, they came together to perform “Living For The City” as a duet on the Ray Charles, 50 Years of Music TV Special.  Check out this monumental moment in music history.

posted by somebod

I never got into Big Band music… I was and still am an R&B junkie.  But I heard this Big Band song once on Ray’s 1975 Renaissance album and fell instantly in love with it.  I played it on my R&B radio show on WJLB Radio in Detroit back in the day.  It’s so comical and so well arranged that it universally appeals to everybody.  Ray Charles delivers the kooky lyrics with that Ray Charles sincerity that can’t miss.  Whenever you feel down in your luck, put this song on… you will relate to it and I promise you, it will lift your spirits and you’ll play it a minimum of 25 times in a row.  This is Ray performing “Then I’ll Be Home,” live in Japan.  Enjoy!

posted by ubbigubbi

When Ray Charles sang the lyrics, “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green,” with Sesame Street’s Kermit The Frog, he brought tears to my eyes as I empathized with anyone who is deemed an outsider.  In this clip, he even treats Kermit like he’s a real person, not a Muppet character.  Check out this Classic TV Moment.

posted by Kennellykeysmusic

Ray took this Beatles Classic and set it on fire!  It was already White Hot thanks to the mysterious and beautifully haunting aura the Beatles set forth in the original recording.  In fact, the Beatles defined this song beyond any further interpretation… at least, that’s what I thought.  But Ray Charles had a way of re-interpreting a song without challenging the originators or the original intent… he would just do it Ray Charles Style… and that was always going to be a treat for us eager listeners.

posted by fritz5172

Ray just loved singing great songs, whether he wrote them or not.  The way he wrapped himself in a song was amazing to see and hear.  He had a way of making the lyrics of a song crystal clear… sometimes like hearing the song for the first time.  Check him out settin’ it out on this Leon Russell song.  Ray is clearly putting his spin on Donny Hathaway’s famous rendition of, “A Song For You.”

posted by ubbigubbi

I’ll leave you with a rare glimpse of Ray Charles playing a saxophone solo on this incredible Country/Western song by Eddie Reeves and (R&B songwriter) Jimmy Holiday.  Again, Ray proves he can sing anything and do it extremely well with his own brand of Ray Charles-isms and panache.  You know, I never met anybody who would argue with the GENIUS label being attached to the one… the only Ray Charles.  Peace!

posted by AndranikAzizbekyan