Ray Charles Plays “America The Beautiful” – When You Hear This… GOOSEBUMPS!!

Over the centuries, there have been people who have mastered the form of music. Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky are a few that come to mind. I don’t think that I would be committing sacrilege to say that Ray Charles belongs somewhere on that list. How many of you were able to play music at such a high level professionally… without the gift of eyesight? Few to none, I’d wager… and this video from 1972 shows the man at the top of his form.

This was taped in 1972. Charles sits down at a grand piano and starts belting out “America The Beautiful”. There are three women in gospel robes who accompany him during the song, but it’s Charles, all kinetic motion on the piano bench, growling, making the song his, that captivates everyone. The way that he would just throw his head back and then give us that easy grin, letting the music wash over him…

I always marveled at how Charles could play the piano despite his blindness. Apparently, his other senses were heightened even more to compensate for lack of eyesight. That and he must have memorized the layout of the piano keyboard. I have to give him kudos for that, because I tried to type this sentence with my eyes closed and, I actually fared pretty well. I think it’s because I’ve been writing for over 20 years and have a very good grasp of the where the letters are. Don’t ask me to do it in front of tens of thousands of people, though.

Charles was one of a kind, along with fellow blind musician Steve Wonder. I never got to see him live, but I will get to say that he was alive during parts of my lifetime, which is more than a lot of kids growing up today can say. It feels like we got to see a once-in-a-generation talent and it was a sad day when he passed away in 2004. At least we have these videos to keep his memory alive…

Did you ever get to see Charles play live? What were your memories of the performance?

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