After moving to Seattle, Ray Charles made his first hit record with a song called “Confession Blues”. Soon after, Charles signed with Atlantic Records and had his first national hit, “I Got A Woman” in 1954. He continued to chart with singles and records throughout the 1950s. After “What’d I Say” became his first crossover hit in 1960, Ray Charles signed a lucrative deal with ABC Records making him the first African-American musician with complete creative control and complete ownership of his masters.
During the sixties, Ray Charles recorded two country music records that brought this genre of music to mainstream America. His influence on soul led to many new and vibrant artists that embraced this unique style of music. Ray Charles continued to record intermittently during the 1970s and 1980s, while his visibility as a pop culture and American treasure increased dramatically. The state of Georgia adopted “Georgia on My Mind” as the official state song; and he performed at the inaugurations of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
Ray Charles was a dazzling musician that a established a worldwide following because of his brilliant music. Although he died in 2004, his legacy lives on.