Rewinding the Charts: In 2005, the Grammys Hailed Ray Charles' 'Genius'

Ray Charles
AP Photo/POOL/ Mike Blake

Charles performed “America the Beautiful” before the second game of the 2001 World Series at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix.

The genre-jumping innovator didn't live to see his second No. 1 Billboard 200 album, which arrived 42 years after his first.

IN OCTOBER 1962, RAY CHARLES' Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music spent a 14th and final week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Although the musical innovator, who blended R&B, pop, gospel and country – and blazed trails for African-American artists – would land dozens more albums on the charts, his next No. 1 wouldn't arrive until almost nine months after his death on June 10, 2004, at the age of 73.

The posthumously released Genius Loves Company vaulted from No. 15 to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 dated March 5, 2005, after the project won eight Grammy Awards on Feb. 13, including album of the year. Genius, which featured duets with a cast of artists that included Elton John, Norah Jones and Gladys Knight, became the late artist's first top 10 LP since 1964 (and his first top 40 entry since 1966).

"He was very sweet and put me at ease, which was great because I was petrified walking in there," Jones told Billboard in 2010 of their collaboration, "Here We Go Again," which won the Grammy for record of the year.

Charles' considerable legacy was burnished further by the success of the biopic Ray, which premiered in October 2004. Two weeks after Genius' Grammy haul, Jamie Foxx won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of the Albany, Ga., native, who lost his sight by the age of 7 and, during his lifetime, married twice and fathered 12 children with nine different women. Said Foxx during his acceptance speech: "Thank you, Ray Charles, for living."

A version of this article first appeared in the March 12 issue of Billboard magazine.


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