One of the father's of contemporary soul, Ray Charles has become an American musical institution. Born Ray Charles Robinson in a small Georgia town, Charles contacted glaucoma at the age of six and lost his sight, but this has not stopped him from launching an active and productive career that has continued through the 1990s and on. He has often appeared in music documentaries and has performed in feature films, where he usually appears as himself. He has also been on television, either hosting his own specials, or acting as a guest artist on those of others.
Biography by Sandra Brennan
- At age 5, witnessed the death of his younger brother, George, who drowned in a washtub.
- Became permanently blind from glaucoma at age 7.
- Learned to read and compose music in Braille.
- Dropped Robinson from his last name to distinguish himself from boxer Sugar Ray Robinson.
- His rendition of "Georgia on My Mind" was named Georgia's state song in 1979.
- Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the institution's inaugural class in 1986.
- Is the subject of Oscar-winning movie Ray (2004) and the stage show Unchain My Heart.