Ray Charles - Prather 1 Charlie Prather ETHS 0250 D Hubbard...

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Prather 1 Charlie Prather ETHS 0250 D. Hubbard December 15, 2007 Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story “I never wanted to be famous. I only wanted to be great,” were the words of pioneering musician Ray Charles Robinson ( September 23 , 1930 June 10 , 2004 ). Today Ray is known for his extremely inspiring life story, his reshaping of jazz, his influence upon nearly every genre of his time, and most importantly inventing soul music. Ray Charles Robinson was born on September 23 rd 1930 in Albany Georgia to Aretha and Bailey Robinson, who were never formally married. Soon after Ray’s birth, the family moved to Greenville, Florida, a tiny rural village near the border of Florida and Georgia. The family was very poor, and Bailey was hardly a part of Ray’s life at all (Charles and Ritz 4). Bailey was a railroad worker, who worked between Perry, Florida, and Adel, Georgia. Bailey had been married and ran a small café before with women named Mary Jane, and Bailey never did play a major role in Ray’s life, however he would stop by from time to time to say hello Ray’s mother. Mary Jane, Bailey’s first wife, however did play quite a role. She cared for Ray, loved him like a son, possibly because she lost the one that she gave birth to initially, named Jabbo. Ray called Mary Jane, Mother, and called his real mom, Aretha or Retha, Mama, as the two women would bathe him. Retha was a petit woman, who had worked hard her whole life. In 5 th grade she dropped out of school to work cotton, tobacco, and bean fields. While raising Ray, Retha
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Prather 2 did things such as ironing and washing clothes for the neighborhood, she was also paid to petty work from other neighborhood women, however she was never paid much. Physically Retha was a very weak woman, however she was extremely strong when it came to discipline. Ray also had a Brother, named George, who was extremely smart for his young age, neighborhood kids used to stop by just to watch him do mathematics. Retha brought the two boys up with the consistent motto, “you don’t beg, and you don’t steal” (Herbst 262). Ray never really had a place to call home, Retha consistently had them moving around, and Ray often time slept in the same bed as Retha, until becoming older. When Ray was five and George was four, the two boys were playing out back around a big washtub, while Retha was inside doing some laundry. While playing George fell into the tub and started to drown, while Ray stood there ‘frozen,’ while his brother drowned. When he finally ran as if he was on fire inside to get his mother, George had already died, and the only thing that the two of them could do was just hold each other, and Ray still doesn’t remember crying until a few months later, when things started to get hard to see ("Ray"). When Ray was a kid, he claims to havestarred into the sun too much (Winski 45).
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Ray Charles - Prather 1 Charlie Prather ETHS 0250 D Hubbard...

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