In 1960, Ray Charles released “Georgia On My Mind”, a wonderful remake of a classic from the Thirties. The song was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in 1930. Before Ray Charles, the most popular version of the song was done by Frankie Trumbauer and His Orchestra and was a moderate hit in 1931. The song was originally written as a tribute to Carmichael’s sister, Georgia, but the song soon became known as referring to the state of Georgia. Today it is the official state song of Georgia. “Georgia On My Mind” became Ray’s first number one song in the United States. The song went on to earn Ray Charles his second and third Grammy Awards. He won for Best Performance By A Pop Single Artist and for Best Vocal Performance Single Record Or Track, Male in 1960.
Ray Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson in 1930 in Albany, Georgia, but he grew up in Greenville, Florida. Some people don’t know that he was not born blind. He could see until he was about five years old when he started having trouble with his eyes. His family was too poor to get him the medical help he needed, so, he gradually went blind, By the time he was seven, he was completely blind. Later, a doctor told him it was from glaucoma, but no one knows for sure.
He lost his brother, George when he was four. His father died when he was ten and his mother died when he was fifteen. So, at an unusually young age, he was an orphan and blind. But, he liked to play the piano. His teachers tried to get him to play classical music, but he preferred boogie woogie and, so that’s what he played.
“Georgia On My Mind” is an old standard and Ray would play it at concerts during the Fifties. One day, his driver asked him why he never recorded it. Ray could not come up with a good answer, so, soon after that they went into the studio and recorded the song in four takes, much quicker than he was known to record a song.
“Georgia On My Mind” entered the pop charts on October 10, 1960 and spent one week at number one. It was his first number one song on the pop chart.