*In the late 50’s the atmosphere in America was beginning to percolate from the movement for civil rights.
And as this movement continued to grow and develop, and ultimately reach it’s peak throughout the sixties, it was the music of Ray Charles that would heal the souls of black and white alike.
His vocal styling’s would become a global influence around the world as America was at a turning point with the tragic death of President Kennedy, the bombing of the church in Birmingham, Alabama in which four little girls were killed, the war in Viet Nam taking it’s course, and the assassination of Martin Luther King would be the straw that broke the camels back.
It was Ray’s music that would be soothing to the souls of everyone around the world during that period.
Who could forget “Georgia On My Mind”, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, “I Got A Woman”, “Wichita Lineman”, “O What a Beautiful Morning”, “Eleanor Rigby”, and one of my favorites “Let’s Go Get Stoned.”
These are just some of the more than 800 songs that Ray recorded throughout his career that reached the far corners of the world, and had a lasting impact to this day.
And who could forget his rendition of “America The Beautiful”, that song itself became an American institution.
He received at least seventeen Grammy awards, a Kennedy Center Honors award for his excellence, and so many other acknowledgements for becoming an American institution through his music.
So it was befitting for the United States Postal Service to honor him with the unveiling of a stamp yesterday at the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles.
This was a gala which brought out several prominent figures of entertainment, politics, and civil rights that were in attendance ranging from Ray’s former manager the one and only Joe Adams, Valerie Ervin President of the Ray Charles Foundation, L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, Ray Charles Robinson Jr., the Rev. Jessie Jackson, the beautiful Chaka Khan who treated everyone with her vocal styling’s, and a superb performance by the Grammy Museum Session students.
Also in attendance for this gala event was Assistant L.A.P.D. Chief Earl Paysinger, Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave), and Lorraine and Phyllis Bradley daughter of the late Mayor Tom Bradley.
Folks, all this couldn’t have happen on a better day as this was Ray’s birthday (he would’ve been 83).
The Rev. Jessie Jackson said it best when interviewed prior to the event as he first spoke of Joe Adams, “He woke him up, and put him to bed. He managed him, and guided him, and dressed him, and made him present himself professionally on stage.”
He then went on to give his thoughts on Ray, “Since I was a child, Ray went into houses where we couldn’t walk on the lawns. Ray was behind the “Iron Curtain” when other diplomats could not (referring to the period when the U.S. had cold relations with Russia), he was a transformative musician, and a genius because he could make hard work look easy. We are honored to have this postal stamp, and we want Ray to know that we can’t stop loving you.”
Ray left behind a volume of recorded works that we shall cherish for all times
We would like to acknowledge Valerie Ervin President of the Ray Charles Foundation for working diligently to keep Ray’s legacy alive.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to his family.
Southern California based Mohammed Mubarak, a portrait artist as well, can be contacted at [email protected] for your comments.