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 (
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
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
dropped out of school to work cotton, tobacco, and bean fields. While raising Ray, Retha