Ray Charles Robinson was raised in the deep south of USA during the very hard times of 1940’s Georgia. His mother raised him with tough love and his childhood was punctuated with tragedies and heartbreak. He was blessed with a love and natural talent for making music. He lost his sight as a child and made his own way in the world from that point on with very keenly developed senses of hearing and touch. In the late 1950’s he got a break into the music business and gradually rose to huge fame and fortune. Unfortunately, the ravages of drugs took their toll on his early years in the music industry to the point where he almost lost everything. He vowed to stay off drugs from that point on – which he did. His music career flourished until his death and he became a strong supporter of the Equal Rights movement, particularly for deaf and blind performers. In the later years of his life, he became a national treasure and an international phenomenon.
Before I watched this movie, I was relatively ignorant about the life of Ray Charles. I knew that he was a well-regarded performer of many decades, I knew his style of music and I knew that he was blind – that was about all. When I watched this movie I realised there was far more to him than was ever in the popular media that I was exposed to. Jamie Foxx mades a suberb Ray Charles. His wife Della Bea (played by Kerry Washington) is great and his childhood days are depicted by his “tough love” mother Aretha (by Sharon Warren) and the young Ray (exquisitely played by C J. Sanders). Several key people from his music career such as Quicy Jones (by Larenz Tate) are portrayed in the movie also.
This movie is too long – there is a mid section relating to his band activities during the late 1950’s that could be shorter, but apart from that it is well worth watching.
Made in 2004. Directed by Taylor Hackford