New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Ray Charles was often called the "genius of soul," but in his six-decade musical career, he made some of the most important country records in history. His country sides brought unprecedented national and international attention to the music whose primary home was Nashville.
To appreciate and understand Charles' impact on country music, the Country Music
Hall of Fame and Museum will host a discussion with panelists John Burk, Concord Records president and producer of Charles' multi-GRAMMY award winning album Genius Loves Company; Valerie
Ervin, president of the Ray Charles
Foundation; Tennessee-born singer-songwriter Valerie
June, who works in both blues and country; and Grand Ole Opry member Travis
Tritt, who recently appeared on An Opry Salute to Ray Charles, and appeared with Charles for a CMT Crossroads concert special in 2002.
Charles worked in different musical styles, and was at home in all of them, including R&B, jazz, blues, pop and country music. He stamped each with his immediately identifiable musical character.
Charles grew up listening to country music, and was a lifelong fan of the story telling in country songwriting. In his 1962 album Modern Sounds
in Country and Western Music, Mr. Charles reworked some of his favorite songs including "I Can't Stop Loving You," "You Don't Know Me," and "Born to Lose." His record company was, at first, taken aback by Charles's challenge to musical convention. The album's integration of soul and country music at the height of the civil rights movement overcame racial barriers in popular music, and simultaneously gave country music far broader exposure than it had ever enjoyed. Speaking about Charles' role in the popularization of the genre, Willie Nelson
said "I think Ray Charles
did as much as anybody when he did his country music album. Ray Charles
broke down borders and showed the similarities between country music and R&B."
The album was a blockbuster commercial success, spending 14 weeks atop the BIllboard Pop Albums Chart in 1962 and becoming the first country album in history to achieve Gold record status, which naturally led to a sequel, Modern Sounds
in Country and Western Music
Volume Two. Concord will reissue Vol. 1 on Vinyl and both volumes on cd and across all digital platforms on February 22.
Saturday, February 23rd @ 2PM
Hall of Fame and Museum, Ford Theater
222 5th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203
The panel discussion will be moderated by the museum's Senior Editor Michael Gray, who co-curated the museum's past exhibition titled, "I Can't Stop Loving You: Ray Charles
and Country Music. The program will be illustrated with vintage photos, film and recordings, and Valerie
June will perform a short set of Charles' songs from these classic albums.
This program is included with museum admission, free to museum members and a program pass is required. It will be streamed live at countrymusichalloffame.org/streaming.