Ray Charles' soul influences today's artists - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ray Charles' soul influences today's artists

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December 7, 2007

Albany -- Willie Moody belts out one of Ray Charles original songs with the honor of knowing that without him he would not be on this stage.

"I recall sitting on his lap after the first performance and encouraged me and told me to just be the best musician I can be," said Moody.

Moody opened for Ray Charles when he was only seven years old back when Ray performed in Albany years ago. And now he is the opening performer during his memorial dedication.

"He kind of laid the ground work for me as a blind musician to be successful and carve a niche for ourselves," said Moody. 

Crowds sang along to songs that helped influence the styles of many artists.

"My father could make you laugh. He could make you cry. His ability to move people emotionally is what I think captivated his audience. And it continues to do that even in his passing," said Ray Charles daughter, Sheila Raye Charles. 

But the common theme with those who knew and worked with Charles was his passion.

"He put his heart and soul into it. He was a perfectionist. If one band member was a little off; he would stop the whole concert and tell that band member to get it right," said Ray Charles son, Corey Charles.

"Surround yourself with the best never ever stop practicing," said Sheila Raye Charles.

"Ray Charles is and awesome person. He is an awesome artist and blind musicians across the country should be extremely grateful for the road he paved for us," said Moody.

A road that is now forever memorialized by his statue along the flint river.

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