Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004) was an American musician known as Ray Charles. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusingrhythm and bluesgospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records.[1][2][3] He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with hiscrossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his Modern Sounds albums.[4][5][6] While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company.[2] Frank Sinatra called Charles “the only true genius in show business,” although Charles downplayed this notion.[7]

The influences upon his music were mainly jazz, blues, rhythm and blues and country artists of the day such as Art TatumNat King ColeLouis JordanCharles Brown, and Louis Armstrong. His playing reflected influences from country bluesbarrelhouse and stride piano styles.

Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on their list of "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" in 2004,[8] and number two on their November 2008 list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time".[9] In honoring Charles, Billy Joel noted: "This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley.

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