Ray Charles remembered in Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ray Charles remembered in Albany

June 18, 2004

Albany - On Friday, south Georgians remembered the father of soul and one of our favorite sons. 

Ray Charles' music echoed throughout Veterans Park Amphitheater in Albany.

Albany State University's Jazz Ensemble played "I Can't Stop Loving You" and several other rhythm and blues tunes.

The Bo Henry Band played more upbeat Ray Charles' songs like, "Hit the Road Jack".

African Dancers and Drummers closed out the ceremony as a tribute to Charles' heritage.

Ray Charles was born in Albany in 1930.

Ray Charles not only left behind old sweet songs, but inspiration to those who are following in his footsteps. 

Willie Moody sings, "Just an old sweet song, keeps Georgia on my mind..."

Enough to send chills down your spine on a hot south Georgia day. Moody says, "It gave me chills sitting by him."

Moody not only plays Ray Charles' songs, in 1979, he played with Ray Charles. Both musicians can't see, but share the vision of great dreams. He continues singing to the Albany crowd, "The road leads back to you..."

And now the road leads back to memories. Moody adds, "He was telling me, Willie do your best, just relax. He was so kind and compassionate."

Kind words that inspired a nine-year-old. Now, 25 years later, Moody smiles, "It has given me the courage and strength to go on in music. It was the highlight as well as the start."

Moody's career has only begun. Ray Charles' has ended, but his music will forever live through the lives of other star-struck musicians, like Willie Moody. He tells the crowd, "We love you Ray."

Moody was born with eye problems, but was blind by two-years-old. Ray Charles lost his eyesight by age seven.

posted at 6:27PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com