Ray Charles, born 1930 in Albany GA, winner of three Grammy Awards, was blind from childhood and for 20 years was addicted to heroin. He managed to kick the habit after seeing how the devastation of drug use was hurting his family.
He started playing the piano at three years old and after he lost his vision at age seven, he never lost his love for music. He didn’t confine his art to one genre but varied from blues to spirituals to country and won a Grammy in country music for I Can’t Stop Loving You in 1962.
In 1981, he was awarded a star on Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. Ray was an independent thinker and activist. “Blind people can do 98 percent of anything sighted people can do,” he once told me. Drown in My Own Tears, which he wrote in memory of his deceased mother, was my favorite Ray Charles song. In 2015, I was honored to preach at a church in Los Angeles with his son Ray Jr., a minister. Ray died at 73 in Beverly Hills. CA. on June 10, 2004.
Read more about Ray Charles in our exclusive interview only available in my book, And Still We Rise.