Ray Charles


A local cafe owner by the name of Wylie Pitman taught a very young Ray how to play some piano  before Ray  tragically lost his sight at age 7 due to untreated Glaucoma.

He attended a blind school in Florida, where he was able to expand his musical talents. He was taught the classical music of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, but had to learn each hand separately because he would need the free hand to read the notes that were written in Braille

His mother passed away when he was 14, and while Ray did get some paid gigs, he had  a difficult time making a living. for many years. Eventually, he was recognized for his musical genius, and was signed by Atlantic Records in 1952

While Ray could play just about any style including boogie-woogie, jazz, country, gospel and blues., his influence in the development of early rock and roll piano cannot be underestimated. His original songs like “I Got A Woman” and “What’d I say” were hard edged, piano-based  R&B songs that clearly paved the way for what would become mainstream Rock and Roll

Modern rock keyboardists across the board cite Ray Charles as being a influence and an inspiration