Ray Charles in 1990
|Birth name||Ray Charles Robinson|
September 23, 1930|
Albany, Georgia, U.S.
|Origin||Greenville, Florida, U.S.|
|Died||June 10, 2004
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer, songwriter, composer|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, keyboards|
|Labels||Atlantic, ABC, Warner Bros., Swing Time, Concord, Columbia, Flashback|
|Associated acts||The Raelettes, USA for Africa, Billy Joel, Gladys Knight|
My music had roots which I'd dug up from my own childhood, musical roots buried in the darkest soil.
The fact of the matter is, you don't give up what's natural. Anything I've fantasized about, I've done.
Mama was a country woman with a whole lot of common sense. She understood what most of our neighbors didn't – that I shouldn't grow dependent on anyone except myself. 'One of these days, I ain't gonna be here,' she kept hammering inside my head.
I don't know what would have happened to me if I hadn't been able to hear.
There are many spokes on the wheel of life. First, we're here to explore new possibilities.
My version of 'Georgia' became the state song of Georgia. That was a big thing for me, man. It really touched me. Here is a state that used to lynch people like me suddenly declaring my version of a song as its state song. That is touching.
There's nothing written in the Bible, Old or New testament, that says, 'If you believe in Me, you ain't going to have no troubles.'
Any artist, when he goes in to record, should have the feeling that any song he records can be a hit. This may sound egotistical, but it makes sense.
I did it to myself. It wasn't society… it wasn't a pusher, it wasn't being blind or being black or being poor. It was all my doing.
I've always been the kind of person who, if there's anything that can kill me, I want to know something about it.
I'm a firm believer in God himself, but that's as far as I can go. I'm not any denomination. I'm not Catholic or Presbyterian or Baptist or Methodist or Jewish or Muslim. I'm none of those things. And I'm sure that's just fine with God.
Music's been around a long time, and there's going to be music long after Ray Charles is dead. I just want to make my mark, leave something musically good behind. If it's a big record, that's the frosting on the cake, but music's the main meal.
People couldn't understand why my mama would have this blind kid out doing things like cutting wood for the fire. But her thing was: He may be blind, but he ain't stupid.
I met Quincy Jones in Seattle. We were kids together… liked each other when we met and have been close ever since. He wasn't writing when we met – in fact, I more or less started him off to write; voicing, harmony, and stuff like that.
I don't know about other writers, but for myself, to write I must be relatively quiet – it's very difficult to write with the telephone and the doorbell ringing and conversation going on; I'm not that good a writer to write through all that!
To me, music is entertainment – what else can it be? In fact, it's the only language I know of that's universal.
Music is powerful. As people listen to it, they can be affected. They respond.
With singing, the name of the game is to make yourself believable. When somebody hears you sing a song, and they say, 'Oh, that must have happened to him,' that's when you know you're transmitting. It's like being a good actor. You make people feel things, emotions and what not.
Love is a special word, and I use it only when I mean it. You say the word too much and it becomes cheap.
What makes my approach special is that I do different things. I do jazz, blues, country music and so forth. I do them all, like a good utility man.
What is a soul? It's like electricity – we don't really know what it is, but it's a force that can light a room.
Learning to read music in Braille and play by ear helped me develop a damn good memory.
I am very into lyrics. I start with what the words are saying, what the storyline is saying, like a good script. It should really capture me, do something for me. If I don't get it, it's not going to move people, and if it's not going to move people, it's not going to happen.
Music is my life, professionally, for nearly 60 years. To be recognized by the academy is still the highest honor.
I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water.
I suppose I've always done my share of crying, especially when there's no other way to contain my feelings. I know that men ain't supposed to cry, but I think that's wrong. Crying's always been a way for me to get things out which are buried deep, deep down. When I sing, I often cry. Crying is feeling, and feeling is being human. Oh yes, I cry.
Affluence separates people. Poverty knits 'em together. You got some sugar and I don't; I borrow some of yours. Next month you might not have any flour; well, I'll give you some of mine.