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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #508: Ray Charles Dies
Ray Charles Dies
Ray Charles dies
14 Jun 2004
:video VIDEO: small
Jazz and blues legend Ray Charles died Thursday (June 10th). He was 73-years-old. A spokesman said Charles died of liver disease at his home in (the Los Angeles, California suburb of) Beverly Hills, surrounded by family and friends. Ray Charles was blind by the age of seven and an orphan at 15. Brian Purchia reports:
The gifted pianist, saxophonist and vocalist transcended musical boundaries, mixing gospel, blues and jazz in fast-paced hits like 'Hit the Road, Jack'
'Hit The Road, Jack'
And soulful ballads like 'Georgia on My Mind.'
'Georgia on My Mind'
Another music legend - and friend - Harry Belafonte:
HARRY BELAFONTE, ENTERTAINER
'He brought the passion and the soul of African-Americans through his music to many a listener and I think most people who ever heard Ray Charles were always deeply moved by his enormous gift.'
RAY CHARLES, ENTERTAINER
'I'm just so thankful that over the years I've been able to make so many people happy. But in return, they've made me very happy too.'
Ray Charles Robinson was born into a poor family in 1930. He began playing piano at age five. At seven, he lost his sight to glaucoma.
'My parents got me to the Florida State School for the Deaf and the Blind. I got into the music class. I enjoyed classical music, but it was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to create my own thing.'
Both of Ray's parents died by the time he was 15, so Ray Charles left school and formed a musical group. The group toured the southern United States, copying other musician's styles. After years of touring Ray Charles began to create his own style. He called it soul. Mr. Charles did not allow his lack of sight to affect his musical vision.
'What you have to do is take what you got and find a way to make it work for you. My ears are my eyes.'
'A, B, C, D, E, F, G...'
Ray Charles used every bit of what he had. He became known worldwide for his music. He won numerous awards, including 12 Grammies, the music industry's highest honor. His appeal spanned generations. He worked with musicians from every genre. America loved him -- and he loved America.
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