The genre-defying legacy of Ray Charles will be celebrated next month on one of the stages where the late entertainer felt most at home. During a special Monday night presentation of the Grand Ole Opry on October 8th, artists will gather for “An Opry Salute to Ray Charles.” Hosted by Opry member Darius Rucker, the evening will feature Chris Young, Boyz II Men, Brett Eldredge, Cam, Travis Tritt, Lukas Nelson, and others performing songs popularized by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame icon.
The event will be filmed for a PBS television special set to air in November to celebrate the influence that Charles, who died in 2004 at age 73, had on generations of musicians in the fields of R&B, country music and beyond. The special will also feature behind-the-scenes footage, vintage performance clips and a visit to the Ray Charles Library in Los Angeles.
Born in Albany, Georgia, Charles grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry on WSM radio on Saturday nights. In 1962, he recorded the groundbreaking Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music LP, featuring his distinctive versions of songs by Don Gibson (“I Can’t Stop Loving You”), Cindy Walker (“You Don’t Know Me”), Hank Williams (“Hey, Good Lookin'”) and more. In the early Eighties, after a long tenure with Atlantic Records, Charles found himself without a label. After a 1981 Opry appearance, during which he sang with Loretta Lynn, Nashville’s CBS Records offered him a contract. He soon reached the country charts several times, scoring a Number One duet in 1985 with Willie Nelson on “Seven Spanish Angels.”
Charles was most recently honored by Americana rock group the Band of Heathens, who released a reimagining of Charles’ 1972 album A Message From the People.
Tickets for “An Opry Salute to Ray Charles” will go on sale Thursday, September 20th.