Time again for Wa’sup Wednesday … “Ray Charles … America!” Before I address my opening statement, I want to say Happy Birthday to one of the greatest entertainers of all time …born Ray Charles Robinson, September 23, 1930 in Albnany, Georgia … often called “The Genius” but referred being called “Brother Ray’ … we all know him as Ray Charles. Most of us have seen his movie and know about his struggles in live from his blindness to the racial prejudice he encountered to the battles with his record labels and his fight to overcome his drug addiction. He has conquered so many music genres; Gospel, Country, Rhythm n’ Blues, Standards, Rock n’ Roll, POP, Jazz, Blues and even Patriotic. He won 17 Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts, was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievemant Award, Rolling Stone ranked him #10 on their list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and #2 on thier list of the 100 Greatest Singers f all time. Brother Ray was not a saint, he had his impurities like every human but he stood tall and answered his downfalls … a true man. The man knows and understands the meaning of strife. Which brings me to his rendition of “America the Beautiful” … some critized him for altering the lyrics in the beginning … I saw it as showing his genius. Let me print his entrance verse:
Oh Beautiful for heroes proved, In Liberating Strife,
Who more than self, Our Country loved, And Mercy More than Life,
America, America, may God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness, and every gain devined.
And then the great Ray Charles said “An you know when I was in school we used to sing it like this … listen here!” and he proceeded to sing the words as written.
This from a man who knew about strife, he experienced Social Injustice and racial prejudice, he fought for Civil Rights and conquered povertry and discrimination and with all the problems of the world decided to record a song like “America the Beautiful” and did it with such dignity and respect. I/we had the honors of performing with the great Ray Charles and it took but a short minute for me to see the greatness and genius of this man. Meeting Ray Charles made me think about our country … is it perfect? No, but there is no other place in the universe that allow the freedoms we have. When I listen to Ray Charles Music … I feel the love, the soul, the meaning of a song … there will never be another Ray Charles. Till tomorrow, stay safe, stay healthy, help a neighbor when you can … and, GOD Bless!