Ray Charles: Father of Soul
By: Aidan Daniel
The ‘Father of Soul’ wasn’t the ladies’ man, jazz king, or (of course) the father of soul at the beginning. He had a hard life growing up in middle of segregation, World War 1, and World War 2. Growing up in the 1930’s was hard. Really, really hard. As an African American, segregation was one of the many struggles he and other people had to suffer. But all of that didn’t stop him. Soon enough, he overthrew those negative obstacles and became a jazz musician. One of the most famous ones, too. He wrote famous songs that are used and remade by many things. Movies use them. Musicians do different versions of them. “Hit The Road, Jack” was one of his most famous songs. Now, to change the topic, he did have more struggles than that. Drug abuse was a terrible choice that he made, but we’ll talk more on that.
At Albany, Georgia on September 23, 1930, Ray Charles Robinson was born into the world. The segregated world. By the age of an infant, Ray’s family moved to Greenville, Florida. There was a reason for them to move. There was a special school in Florida for the deaf and blind. His mother knew Ray was going to become blind so she prepared for that time and moved to the place where the school was. The school made for him. Moving may have been a good thing for the Robinson family but soon a traumatic event occurred when he witnessed the drowning death of his younger brother. After the tragic death, he soon began to lose sight. At the age of 7, he was completely blind and his mother sent him to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. At the school, he began to learn how to play piano, organ, sax, clarinet, and trumpet! Now in my opinion, I’ve got to say, that is some talent! And that talent was used for blues.
Sadly, his mother also passed away when he was only 15. This happened when only few people knew him. He was already (partially) a star! He was also on tour at the point of his mother’s death. While on the road, he picked up the addiction for heroin. At 16, he moved to Seattle. There, he met someone named Quincy Jones, a friend he would keep for the rest of their lives. Soon enough, he made famous songs, “Confession Blues”, “Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand”, and “Kissa Me Baby.” These songs soon helped him gain the famous role of Ray Charles Robinson. But now, he was a more famous person, meaning more people would know who he is yet people know who Sugar Ray Robinson is, too. Sugar Ray Robinson, a boxer, and Ray Charles Robinson, a musician. People would get confused. Some may think, “Did Sugar become a singer?” Or, “A boxer to a musician. Not true. Who is this phony?” So, for him to clarify, Ray Charles Robinson dropped the Robinson out of the name and became, “Ray Charles.” Soon later, he got nickname, “Father of Soul” from new songs like soul music and jazz. But as a famous man rises, a drug addict falls. Ray got more and more fame during his career yet he got arrested for the possession of heroin in 1965. He stopped his habit of using this drug and avoided going to jail because of that. Then guess what happened next? He made more music! Him and one of his songs soon got into a Pepsi-Cola Commercial.
A Musical Death
In 2004, this famous and jazzy icon passed away on June 10, in Beverly Hills, California. Though his death was hard to take in, his legacy still went on in movies, biographies, and documentaries. He was the, “King of Jazz”, and in our hearts, he still is. Being blind is tough but he overcame it. Being a heroin addict is tough but he overcame it. Being a musician is tough but he overcame it. This man wasn’t just a jazz musician. He was an icon showing that you can get through tough situations. He has been in a lot of them but guess what? He overcame it. The Father of Soul had more meanings than just being a father of soul music. It meant the father of soul. Soul as in life. He was the father of soul because he taught others how to take care of theirs. So, remember Ray Charles, or Ray Charles Robinson. He truly was The Father Of Soul.