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Ray Charles

Ray Charles

Date: Sep 09 2002


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Ray Charles is truly one of the best human beings on the planet. He is an awe-inspiring musician, yes, but above that he is an extraordinary person. His story is uniquely American, an example of what we like to think is the best in us and of our way of life.
Born black and poor in a time when being black was a hard thing to be, Ray Charles’ life is a true rags to riches story. He overcame blindness and poverty to become one of the most successful and well known performers in the world.
Tanis recently saw Ray Charles in concert. Read on to learn more.


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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.




Migs:   So, what about Ray Charles though?

Tanis:   I love Ray Charles.

Migs:   And your experience with him was what? It was like your dad’s birthday or something?

Tanis:   Easy. Easy. I’ve grown up listening to Ray Charles. It’s not just a one-time affair Miguel. It’s like years of my life listening to, you know, all of his song growing up and stuff. And yes – this is the first time I’ve ever seen him in concert.

Migs:   Wait a second. Let me clear up a few things. Ray Charles is, like, an ancient dude who’s blind, and he’s, I don’t even remem… He’s, he’s not a jazz… What does he sing exactly?

Tanis:   Oh my gosh. He’s kind of jazz. And he’s kinda like… I think they call him, like, the “Grandfather of Soul” or blues. He’s kind of a mix of a lot of different types of stuff. But, um, he has like a big band accompaniment, but he does a lot of jazz. He’s a phenomenal piano player. And, um, he plays a lot of the styles of music that I love, you know, good old, like, rock & roll, or bluesy songs from the…

Migs:   What’s his, like, quintessential Ray Charles song?

Tanis:   Well, when I think of the quintessential Ray Charles, it’s, um, him singing “America the Beautiful.” But, another really famous one is, um, “Georgia” and oh, OK, “Hit the Road Jack.” You know, “Hit the Road Jack, and don’t you come back…” That one.

Migs:   Yeah, I know that song, but I can’t… I don’t know Ray Charles singing it.



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Ray Charles’ music is hard to define. He’s probably the best blues singer in the world, but he can also sing jazz, gospel, country and R&B. He can pretty much do anything, because he was put on this earth to play music. It’s obvious. He even says so:
“Music was one of my parts… Like my blood. It was a force already with me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water.”
I’m going to go buy some Ray Charles CDs. I’ve obviously been missing out. If you’ve never heard him, I suggest you get some of his CDs too.
Are you a Ray Charles fan? Do you like blues music? Ever heard Ray sing “America the Beautiful?” Come to the Music Mix message board and let us know!
Rock on,


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