Born Ray Charles Robinson on September 23rd, 1930 in Albany, Georgia, Ray Charles was a soul music pioneer and legend. Charles was the first African-American musician to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company. Charles began losing his sight at the age of 5 and was blind by the age of 7. His father died when he was 10 and his mother died when he was 15. After his mother died he dropped out of high school. He worked at the Ritz Theater in LaVilla, Florida for 4$ a night. While in Tampa, he played with a southern band called the Florida Playboys and this is where here began wearing sunglasses all the time. Charles died at the age of 73 from liver cancer on June 10th, 2004.