Articles: Ray Charles: National Legend Dies At 73
   
 



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Ray Charles, the transcendent talent who erased musical boundaries between the sacred and the secular with hits such as "What'd I Say," "Georgia on My Mind" and "I Can't Stop Loving You," died Thursday. He was 73.

The multi-Grammy-winning crooner who blended gospel, blues, country and virtually all styles of music died of acute liver disease at his Beverly Hills home at 11:35 a.m. The legendary musician and singer was surrounded by family and friends at the time of his passing, said spokesman Jerry Digney.

Blind by age 7 and an orphan at 15, the gifted pianist and saxophonist spent his life shattering the notion of musical categories and identifaable genres. One of the first artists to record the "blasphemous idea of recording gospel songs with the devil's words in them," legendary producer Jerry Wexler once said Charles' music spanned soul, rock 'n' roll, R&B, country, jazz, big band and blues.

Ray often said he believed that you had to, "Just sing what you feel in your heart. Fame never, ever crossed my mind. All I wanted to do was to be good."

And good is something he will always be remembered for. Everythig he sang, everything he said was worth hearing.

At 70, Ray Charles still had what it takes to make an audience feel what he believed in. His shows were sell-outs and this Grand master of music did it by capturing all the sounds of music, from legendary R&B to country, to the contemporary sounds of todays newest beats.

He put his stamp on it all with his deep, warm voice roughened by heartbreak from a hardscrabble childhood in the segregated South to a smiling sense of hope he learned to cultivate over years of friendships with both blacks and whites from both in and out of the music industry. Smiling and swaying behind the piano, Charles believed in the music, and his music spanned all generations.

His health deteriorated rapidly over the past year, after he had hip replacement surgery and was diagnosed with a failing liver. The Grammy winner's last public appearance was alongside Clint Eastwood on April 30, when the city of Los Angeles designated the singer's studios, built 40 years ago, as a historic landmark.

Ray Charles has been called "the voice of the ages," and he will be forever remembered as exactly that!

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