Ray Charles would say later, I was born with music inside me.... He rose to become a worldwide celebrity with a string of important trend-setting hits that redefined the parameters of black popular music. Before that, he had established himself with a series of recordings that made him the man to watch. Here they are.
His early life had been tough. By the age of seven, already blind, he was packed off to the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind in Florida. He spent eight years there. From the start, it was music that interested him.
At thirteen, he got his first gig as a professional musician, in a jazz band led by guitarist Lawyer Halliburton Smith. In September 1945, he was expelled from school. He took a train north to Jacksonville, where he immersed himself in the local music scene. Saxophonist Tiny York offered him a place in his band, with his own spot in the show.
He moved through several bands. In 1947 drummer Manzy Harris put together a group and Ray was by this time the natural choice for piano and singing duties. In 1948 Ray moved to Seattle and made an immediate impression. One of those drawn to Ray s musical mastery was a young Quincy Jones.
Towards the end of 1948, his trio cut I Love You, I Love You and Confession Blues , for the prestigious Downbeat label. By mid-May 1949 Confession Blues hit the top five in the R&B charts.
This collection traces what followed over the next few hectic years. A major star was on his way.