Born in Albany, Georgia, on September 23, 1930, Ray Charles was one of the first African American artists to merge the blues with gospel to pave the way for Rhythm and Blues (R&B) music.
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.
Ray Charles 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 in 1955.
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The R&B legend was also a huge supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. He became a friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and refused to play before segregated audiences during that period.
Throughout the course of his career, his accolades included scores of Grammys, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, a bronze medallion from the French Republic in recognition of his contribution to world music, just to mention a few.
He passed away on June 10, 2004. Three years after his death, the Ray Charles Plaza was opened in his hometown of Albany, Georgia, featuring a sculpture of him seated at a piano.
To celebrate his legacy, Face2Face Africa shares with you 10 of his greatest hits. Scroll through to check them out in no particular order: