Smithsonian Collections

Ray Charles

Image for Ray Charles
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
Blinded at five, singer-composer Ray Charles learned the rudiments of his musicianship at a school for the deaf and blind in his native Florida. In his early performing career, he modeled his style largely on singer Nat "King" Cole. By the early 1950s, however, he was developing his own original blend of blues and gospel that would lead to his first major hit recording, "I've Got a Woman," and ultimately make him the "father of soul music." The winner of eleven Grammy Awards and a Kennedy Center Honors award, Charles had many hits that have long since become classics of pop music, including "Georgia on My Mind" and "Hit the Road, Jack." He also exercised enormous influence on other performers, and many experts number him among the most important American musicians of his time.
Michel Salou, active mid 20th Century
Ray Charles, 23 Sep 1930 - 10 Jun 2004
c. 1961
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gelatin silver print
Image/Sheet: 17.9 x 23.9 cm (7 1/16 x 9 7/16")
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6 cm (22 x 16")
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Equipment\Sound Devices\Microphone
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Bench
Interior\Performing Arts
Ray Charles: Male
Ray Charles: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Ray Charles: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer
Ray Charles: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Ray Charles: Society and Social Change\Physically disabled\Blind
France\Île-de-France\Ville de Paris, Départment de