Charles' sculpture unveiling, concert to draw big crowds - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Charles' sculpture unveiling, concert to draw big crowds

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December 7, 2007

Albany -- The day is finally here as downtown Albany will honor one its most notable natives in grand fashion. The Ray Charles Plaza will be open to the public following a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday morning. Built in honor of the late singer/song-writer, the $1.5 million project will include a bronze statue of Charles which will be unveiled at the ceremony.

Along with the grand opening of the Ray Charles Plaza, several well known artists are scheduled to perform Friday night on the riverwalk in conjunction with Friday on the Flint to honor the late Ray Charles whose memory will soon have a lasting tribute here in the city where he was born in 1930.

"It's in honor of Ray. It's all in honor of Ray," said Cullena Morman, Albany Tomorrow Inc.

Charles, who recorded such hits as Let the Good Times Roll and Georgia On My Mind, passed away in 2004. The statue memorializing Charles will be unveiled following the ribbon cutting ceremony when the Ray Charles Plaza opens in downtown Albany.

"The main focal point of the plaza of course is the life sized statue of Ray seated at the baby grand piano. The statue comes equip with music, lighting, and it will rotate on a fountain and it will actually give the concept of Ray in a live concert performance," said Morman.

Several local musicians are scheduled to perform beginning at 5:00 p.m. Friday.

"The entertainment will include Mr. Willie Moody, Sheila Raye Charles herself will be performing as well as the J. Blues Band. Slim, formerly of 112, will be on hand. Also, the rap duo Field Mob will perform their rendition of Georgia On My Mind."

The grand opening of the Ray Charles Plaza will certainly pack a large crowd into downtown throughout the day - but one major goal the of new riverfront addition is to attract tourist to the downtown area.

Sheila Raye Charles, the daughter of Ray Charles, will also be making some stops in Albany throughout the day. She will visit with students at Radium Springs Middle School at 12:45 Friday afternoon before signing copies of her book , Behind the Shades, at the Albany Civil Rights Institute at 2 p.m.