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YouTube Gold: Young Ray Charles

He was called “the Genius” because that’s just what he was

Ray Charles Portrait
American singer, songwriter and pianist, Ray Charles (1930 - 2004) poses for a portrait, New York City, 1959.
Photo by James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Ray Charles’s story is pretty well known by this point: born in Florida, Charles lost his site as a young child and was totally blind by seven.

His mother was uneducated and poor but fiercely determined that he would have a chance in life so she sent him to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. He dropped out at 14, after she died, and sought work as a pianist.

This video was just 11 years later when Charles was 25 and just really starting out as a big-time performer.

The song is Hallelujah! I Love Her So! and even by the highest Ray Charles standard, it just crackles with energy and you can tell that this guy is really beginning to discover his power and ability to control and move an audience.

Just because it’s Saturday and it’s the great Ray Charles, here’s an amazing performance of his classic “Hit The Road, Jack” from Austin City Limits.

What the hell. We’ve been through a pandemic and Ray Charles is good for what ails you, so here are some more classics. Happy Saturday!