Ray Charles spoke at the ASU commencement , in 2002.
June 10, 2004
(Beverly Hills, California-AP) -- Singer Ray Charles has died. He was 73. A spokesman says he died today at his Beverly Hills home surrounded by family and friends.
Charles' last public appearance was on April 30th, when the city of Los Angeles designated his studios, built 40 years ago in central Los Angeles, as a historic landmark.
He was born in Albany, and had lost his sight by age seven, and was orphaned at 15, Charles spent his life breaking musical boundaries and defying easy definition. A gifted pianist and saxophonist, he dabbled in country, jazz, big band and blues.
Ray Charles was born in Albany in 1930. His family moved to Florida while Charles was an infant, but he never forgot his hometown.
His classic "Georgia on My Mind" was the state's official song in 1979. Charles sang during Governor Sonny Perdue's inaguration last year.
He won 12 Grammy Awards, with top ten hits "What'd I Say", "Hit the Road, Jack", and "I Can't Stop Loving You."
Charles was given an honorary doctorate degree from Albany State University in 2002, afterpresenting the University with one million dollars, and delivering the commencement address at graduation.