A little music for the Fourth…

I’ve always been a huge, huge Ray Charles fan. You hear people talk about a singer now and then and they’ll say something like, “He could sing the phone book and it’d be an instant classic.” And so it was, with the R&B crooner from small-town Georgia who was completely blind by the age of seven. I’d say he could probably take any genre short of thrash metal and fit right into it, even country; although I never was a big fan of the countrypolitan sounds of Charlie Rich and Ray Price, which was where Charles positioned himself in the country genre, somehow you’ll always find me leaving the radio right where it is when “Crying Time” or “I Can’t Stop Loving You” comes on the classic country station here.
But to my ear, the finest piece of Charles’ repertoire just has to be not one of the blues or country standards he made his own, but his rendering of “America the Beautiful,” the old Katherine Lee Bates poem that was put to the music of Samuel Ward, the composition that many believe should be our national anthem. I’d bet a good chunk of change that a lot of people think that because of Ray Charles.



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