Brother Ray

Ray, a movie that brings to the big screen the big life of Ray Charles, has drawn rave reviews. The impact goes beyond Jamie Foxx's stunning performance as Charles, and even beyond Charles's life itself. The movie presents life lessons that can be used to greatly enhance one's own living.

There's the lesson of finding your own voice. Ray Charles enjoyed limited success early on because he sounded like singers Charles Brown and the legendary Nat King Cole. Charles might well have earned a sizable income by continuing to imitate these great performers. But he had the good fortune of being challenged by Della Beatrice Robinson, his beloved "B," to "sound like Ray Charles." It was only then that Charles began to let out a blues-drenched, church-rinsed voice that had been building in him all along. But — he had to choose to let it out, as we all must risk being the person we really are in order to make our greatest contribution to society.

Another lesson presented in Ray is the importance of being not just true to yourself, but also being open to who you're becoming. Charles alarmed his record producer when, at the height of his soul music success, he opted to do a country and western album. Charles argued that it was because of the soulful stories at the root of country and western music that he had to do the album. And, besides, that music had been a part of his past and was calling out for expression in the person he had become.

'Please unite us'
December 6, 2004

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