Blind from age 7
At five, Ray Charles began to go blind and by the age of seven, his sight was completely gone. His mother sent him to the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind, a racially segregated school in Florida, where he learned to read music in Braille as well as to play both classical and jazz music on the piano.
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He definitely did not let his disability stop him from achieving success. In 1952 he signed with Atlantic Records, one of the largest labels in the country. After being influenced by top artistes such as Nat King Cole, Charles Brown, and Louis Armstrong, Charles recorded his first hit, “I Got a Woman,” in 1955.
Four years later, he released “What’d I Say”, making him one of the leading R&B artists in the country. One of his compositions during this period, “Georgia on My Mind,” was eventually adopted as the official song for the state of Georgia.