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Ray Charles Image Courtesy of CMHOF
Nearly two decades after his death Ray Charles is still receiving new honors and accolades for a brilliant
music career that spanned styles, genres and generations. 

The latest honor for the blind virtuoso, perhaps best known for his piano driven soul music that combined an eclectic mix of jazz, gospel and the bules, comes from the Country Music Hall of Fame which cited his 1962 album “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” as a major reason for the selection.

“With his landmark 1962 album “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music,” the soulful singer and pianist put his own indelible stamp on country songs, broadening the music’s appeal and audience,” read an announcement from the CMHOF. “He made country music a significant part of his repertoire from that point forward, collaborating frequently with country artists, such as Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.”

Following its release, the album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and propelled his collaboration with Nelson on “Seven Spanish Angels” to the top of the country charts.

The announcement went on to acknowledge the entertainer, who lost his sight when he was 7-years-old, “overcame barriers of disability and race to transform American popular music, becoming one of the most revered and recognized entertainers in the world.”

Joining Charles in the class of 2021 are mother-daughter duo the Judds, veteran session drummer Eddie Bayers and pedal steel guitarist Pete Drake.

For Charles, who died in 2004 of complications from liver disease at the age of 73, the induction is just the latest in a long line to halls of fame eager to honor his contributions to music. He was already a member of the Rock and Roll, Grammy, Rhythm & Blues, National Black Sports & Entertainment and Georgia Music Halls of Fame. 

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