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Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story Paperback – 27 Oct 2004
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Barnes & Noble Review, 2/17/12
"One of David Ritz's finest r&b as-told-tos...Rich in insight as well as incident."
Brother Ray tells Ray Charles' extraordinary life-story in his own, unique voice. Now with added material, this new edition is published to coincide with the release of Ray - Universal Pictures biopic starring Jamie Foxx. On June 10th 2004, Ray Charles died aged 73 and the world lost a music legend. The story of his life was a compelling one to say the least, encompassing elements of poverty, blindness, racism, drug addiction, sex, gambling and then finally fame, fortune and respect - the constant remained a genius for music. Born in Georgia at the height of the Depression, Charles' impoverished family travelled throughout the Deep South in search of work. By the age of four his vision had started to deteriorate and he was soon blind and assigned to a special school where he studied music and maths. At the age of 16, following the death of his mother, he left school to become a professional musician, playing wherever he could and struggling to survive. He soon became a popular local talent, scoring a series of minor hits, and by the age of 32 he was acclaimed worldwide as a musical genius.Combining the influences of gospel, jazz, blues and country music to invent almost single-handedly what became known as soul. First published to great acclaim in 1978, Brother Ray soon attained classic status. In an inimitable and unsparing voice, Charles tells his whole story, from the chronicle of his musical development to his heroin addiction to his tangled romantic life. Like a rap from a great storyteller, Brother Ray is as engaging, funny, candid and soulful as Ray Charles' enduring music. Now updated to include co-author David Ritz's moving essay, "The Last Days of Brother Ray". See all Product description
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The right thing to a real Ray fan, or also to a beginner - will make to love him even more. :)
Now, I’d love to say that I’m a big Ray Charles fan, but the truth is that while I’m sure I’m familiar with a lot of his work, I’m not much more than a casual listener. But with this book, that doesn’t really matter. If you like music, you’re going to like reading Ray’s story, because his life and his outlook are so influenced by the music he listened to and created.
Another thing worth noting here is the skill shown by David Ritz in pulling the book together. It was created using a series of interviews and informal chats between the two men, and Charles was given the opportunity to review braille printouts so that he could advise on changes and make sure that it was all just right. And because of this, the whole story is told in Ray’s actual voice – I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard the man talk, but I can picture what he must have sounded like just from the writing. That’s the sign of good writing, and it makes the story sweeter.