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Ahmet Ertegun on Ray Charles

Ray Charles Robinson was born in Albany, Georgia, in 1930 and raised in Florida. He was blinded at age six and orphaned at fifteen, and knew the essence as well as the matter of the blues. I first heard Ray on a record on the Springtime label, called "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand," and it thrilled me through and through. Then miraculously, I discovered through an agent named Billy Shaw that his contract could be bought. Well, we jumped at it. And as a result, we had a very great association – a historic association – and a string of hits too long for me to mention. Whereas we thought that we were producing Ray Charles when we were first starting out, I realized by the third session that he was not only teaching me about music, but he was showing me how to make records. A true musical genius, Ray Charles had a wide range of tastes, going from jazz, to gospel, to country and to the blues, he is probably the greatest all-around singer-musician in America. He is my friend, and a great inspiration.

Ray Charles