Welcome Home Ray - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Welcome Home Ray

Posted: Updated:

December 7, 2007

Albany - The musical son of Albany is home. Friday hundreds turned out for the unveiling of a life-like statue of the late Ray Charles, born here in Albany back in 1930. Among those in attendance were members of Charles' family and the man who seemingly brought Ray back to life again.

He was born to be a legend. "It was Ray's dream to entertain. To play. To sing," said Andy Davis.

But Ray Charles was also born into poverty. "They reminded him that he was poor," Davis told the crowd.  "They told him he couldn't play the piano."

Charles would later lose all sight.  His so called "shortcomings" all mixed into a 1930s recipe for failure. "They hissed at him that he was black. They mocked that he was blind. They said he could never do it, but they," Davis said, "were wrong."

And now the man that they were wrong about is welcomed home with cheers and applause. "I present to you Ray Charles the sculpture," Davis said to the hundreds gathered.

Though Charles only lived in Albany for a few months of his life, his legend will have a lasting impact on those who live here, thanks to this man, sculptor Andy Davis.  He said, "I feel great to be a part of that because I feel like I'm going to forever have a connection to Ray Charles now in this fashion."

Not just as a piece of art, but a historical marker. Charles marked the path for those with wrought with disabilities and disdain to continue moving forward, despite how the world viewed them. "This is the most incredible experience I've had," said Daughter Sheila Raye Charles, "especially with anything to do with my father. Albany definitely has given him the best come-home of all the places I've been."

A homecoming for a legend, who refused to be "Busted". Ray Charles died in 2004 at the age of 73.

comments: news@walb.com?subject=RayCharlesPlazaUnveiledKCC