Ray Charles was born into a sharecropper's family in 1930 - the beginning of the great depression. By the time he turned seven years old he had lost his sight completely. Ray was sent to St. Augustine's School for the Deaf and blind and it was there that he studied music, learning to play piano and saxophone among other instruments. When he was 15 years old his mother passed away and Ray dropped out of the school to pursue a career in music performance. His father would pass away two years later.
That musical career Ray started as a teenage continued until his death in 2004. Ray Charles was a central figure in the development of the soul genre by combining elements of gospel and blues music. Among his innumerable achievements were seventeen Grammy awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the President's Merit Award.
Here is Ray Charles' recording of Night Time is the Right Time from 1958.
As you listen, try to tune in to a few things:
- Do you hear the rhythmic repetition in the saxophone? *Doom-ba doom-ba doom-ba doom-ba*. . . It continues throughout the whole song. The notes it plays make up what's called the 12 bar blues. 12 bar blues is how the notes in a blue's song are grouped together.
- Do you hear how gravelly the female soloist's voice is? Her name was Margie Hendrix. That gravelly quality was iconic of blues, soul, and some jazz styles.
- Listen for who sings the hook (the part that repeats and gets stuck in your head) and the verse (the part that tells what's going on). Notice that the trio (the were called the Raeletts) sing the hook at first. However, when Margie Hendrix takes her solo, Ray Charles moves to the hook to complete the trio.
Hope you enjoy some Ray Charles this morning.
Keep singing, night and day.