Ray Charles in Sugar Hill

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Category: Our History
Published on Sunday, 26 May 2013 23:42
Written by Deborah Charles

Ray Charles was born in Albany, Georgia on September 23 and passed away in Beverly Hills, CA on June 10, 2004.


His 80th birthday celebration, which would have been on September 23, 2010, was marked with the indelible release of undiscovered masters titled “Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters”.

Around the end of 1979 I had the distinct honor of being hired to work for Ray Charles Enterprises. Although my employment there was brief, every day that I walked through the doors at 2107 W. Washington Blvd., the building that Ray Charles had built in 1964 in the historic area of Los Angeles called Harvard Heights (formerly known as Sugar Hill), I felt I was a part of living history.  As a sidebar, I received a great deal of attention because my last name is Charles – people seemed to have either forgotten or they didn’t know that Ray’s last name was Robinson and he shortened to Ray Charles; Charles being his middle name.


The building that once housed this great American master, is now a seven room museum open to the public and catering to school age children including children with disabilities. On display you will find items like his many gold records to his beautiful and colorful specially designed brocade jackets that he wore when he performed. Of special interest is the state of the art expansive recording studio.

The museum is run by the Ray Charles Foundation which is a non-profit corporation started by Ray in 1986. The current Foundation President  is Valerie Ervin, who worked as an executive assistant to Joe Adams for many years. Joe Adams was a career long friend, manager and Executive Vice President of Ray Charles Enterprises until he retired in 2008. He now serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors which include – Rev. Cecil Murray, Ronald Boyd, Ramsey Jay, Jr., and Diana Treister. The foundation owns and is the licensing agency for Ray Charles musical legacy.

Staying true to Ray Charles strong commitment to the arts and education, the specific purpose of the foundation has been to administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes; to encourage, promote and educate through grants to institutions and organizations as to causes and cures of diseases and disabilities of the hearing impaired.

Non-profit organizations whose mission correlates to that of the foundation can apply for grants by visiting the website for grant application instruction and deadlines www.theraycharlesfoundation.org.

Ray Charles is without a doubt a precious icon who will be forever linked to our community, through his music, his landmark building and his foundation.



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