Tangerine Records has announced True Genius: Sides of Ray, a double vinyl disc collection to be released on November 19th. The collection illustrates Ray Charles’ many musical “sides” by focusing each album side on the genre categories he visited most: soul, jazz & blues, country, and pop.
Ray’s unique mastery of music allowed him to continue to explore all forms of music, freely floating between jazz, blues, pop, rock, soul and country while continuing to combine them in new, unprecedented ways. His dramatic expansion of the boundaries of country music was celebrated in August 2021, when he was officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
True Genius: Sides of Ray follows the September 2021 release of True Genius, a newly remastered, limited edition CD set featuring 90 of the greatest songs from his legendary career and all of Ray’s biggest hits.
Ray Charles’ recordings are major landmarks in American culture. By blending country and roots with other popular sounds, this visionary singer, songwriter, pianist and composer brought his expansive musical vision to a worldwide audience. Charles’ albums, released during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, broke down both racial and genre barriers. The incredible crossover success of Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2 led Willie Nelson to remark, “Ray Charles did more for country music than any other artist.” Ray continued to do something no other artist had done before or since, conquering all genres of music, from gospel and R&B to soul, country, jazz, blues, and pop, which led Frank Sinatra to dub Ray Charles, the only “True Genius” in music.
Ray further helped bring Americans together with his rendition of “America the Beautiful,” and he remains the only artist in history to create and define a national anthem. Charles was also one of the first recording artists to have ownership of his masters as well as complete creative freedom.
Charles’ staggering achievements over a 58-year career include 17 GRAMMY Awards, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame, and Country Hall of Fame, a Lifetime Achievement and the President’s Merit Award, the Presidential Medal for the Arts, France’s Legion of Honor, the Kennedy Center Honors, the NAACP Image Awards’ “Hall of Fame Award,” and numerous other music Halls of Fame, including those for Jazz and Rhythm & Blues, all testament to his enormous influence. In 2019, he was honored by the Grand Ole Opry with An Opry Salute to Ray Charles, which was broadcast across PBS stations.
One of the greatest artists of all time, Charles successfully mastered and forever changed the blues, jazz, gospel, rock, pop, and country music landscapes. He teamed up with the best of the best in each stylistic genre, including B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, Hank Williams Jr, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, and countless others. As he described himself. “I’m not a country singer. I’m a singer who sings country songs. I’m not a blues singer, but I can sing the blues. I’m not really a crooner, but I can sing love songs. I’m not a specialist, but I’m a pretty good utility man. I can play first base, second base, shortstop. I can catch and maybe even pitch a little.”
Ray Charles was more than just the Genius of Soul; he was the Genius of Music.
*Feature image: Norman Seeff