Brother Ray - Ray Charles Own Story

previous music book review | next music book review

June, 2005 | Brother Ray: Ray Charles’ Own Story | If you’re one of the many people who saw Ray the movie and liked it, you’ll like Brother Ray: Ray Charles’ Own Story, even more.

While, the movie sanitized some parts of Charles’ life and sensationalized other parts, his autobiography reveals his musical genius, as well as his triumph over blindness
in a world of people with sight.

In his own words, Ray Charles brings his childhood; youth and adult years to life in an unapologetic and uncompromised fashion.

This is no pity party for the blind musician. From the time he lost his sight at seven years old until his death, he continued to live his life like he could see.

His rule of life was “no dog, no cane, no guitar.” Charles describes riding bikes and a motorcycle through Tallahassee, Florida to the extent that his eligibility for attendance at the state school for the blind came under scrutiny.

He often refers to “looking,” “seeing,” and “watching,” when recalling situations and experiences.

Race was not an issue that escaped Charles because he couldn’t see. He didn’t use skin color to differentiate between people, but he was not blind to the nuances of race and racism in the South and other places.

He often took a position of not playing to segregated audiences. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but his position was always crystal clear.

In the movie “Ray” a fair amount of time was devoted to his off-stage relationship with Raelette’s singer Margie Hendricks, to the exclusion of his other extra-marital affairs.

Charles was sued for paternity many times and took financial responsibility for all nine of his children. In his own words, Charles admits to his sexual addictions as well as a drug addiction.

According to Charles, he was never a dope “fiend.” He had a habit that he could pay for, that never got in the way of his music. He quit heroin because he didn’t want to embarrass his children by going to jail for possession and use, not because he was a junkie.

This book reveals the real man behind the glasses. Ray Charles was a man who lived his own life and nobody else’s. His story is remarkable, inspirational and downright entertaining.


Review written by Dorothy Ferebee for the Powerhouse Radio Newsletter, June, 2005.

Dorothy is the author of the book How To Create Your Own African American Library

Home | Archive | Blog | Picture Sleeves | Airchecks | Contact | About