These interviews/articles contributed by Soul-Patroller Bill Carpenter..


Mable John, who was the leader of the Raelets from 1968 to 1977, recalls her friend Ray Charles today. She says that Charles didn't only teach her about friendship and music; he also taught her how to hear.

"He loved my voice. He thought it was unique," John says of music legend Ray Charles who died today. "He taught me how to listen. He taught me to hear things I never heard before musically. He said most people hear with their eyes but he taught me to see with my ears. He'd tell me to close my eyes and try to feel hear the note that way. He said that his hearing was so keen that he could hear a rat piss on cotton. Because of him, I can be sitting in front of an orchestra and hear only one instrument. He taught me how to find that note."

Charles had been a fan of Mable John long before they ever met. When her brother Little Willie John died in 1968, Ray Charles called John and coaxed her out of her depression by telling her jokes and taking her mind off of her loss. Charles put John in charge of the Raelets and trusted her with the road money. Under her watch, the Raelets appeared on "The Carol Burnett Show" and toured the Orient without Charles. They also recorded hits such as "Bad Water" and "I'll Do Everything For You" on Charles' Tangerine Records label in the early 1970s. Of course, they also performed with Charles all over the world. "He took me places I would have never imagined going as a blues singer and as an African-American woman," John says.

Even after John left the Raelets to go into the ministry in 1977, she and Charles continued to talk and collaborate on songs. They wrote over fifty songs together and last performed together at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2003. Just five weeks ago, they talked of going into the recording studio one more time. He promised he'd be well enough. "That's the only promise he ever broke in almost 40 years of friendship<" john says. "If he could have made good on it, he would have because that was sin his heart. He wanted to perform right until the end."

Mable John was the first female artist signed to Motown records in 1959. Universal Records recently issued John's long out-of-print blues singles on the CD "My Name is Mable." In 1966 she moved on to Stax Records where she enjoyed a million-seller with smash Top Ten R&B single "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)." She now runs the Joy in Jesus Ministries in Los Angeles.


"I'm broken hearted," veteran soul singer Candi Staton says of the loss of her friend Ray Charles today at the age of 73. "I'm just shocked. He was my favorite singer of all time. I used to listen to him when I was a teenager and it was a dream come true, to share a stage with him when I became an artist myself. I knew he was sick but I had no idea it would be this soon. His soul is my prayers."

Staton last saw Charles in person when they both appeared on David Gest's "Miracle on 24th Street" concert at Madison Square Garden in December 2002. I'm so thankful that David Gets brought us back together again," Staton says. "David booked us both on that concert and I went up and knocked on Ray's dressing room door and told him who it was. He told me to come in and we had a great time catching up. He asked me to walk him to the stage and I did. He held on to me really tight and wouldn't let me go. I'm so thankful I got to see him again before he passed."

Staton first performed with Charles in 1976 when she opened for him at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. " My heart is just breaking," she continues. "The world has lost a one of a kind singer and a one of a kind man. Nobody can replace Ray Charles. His absence leaves a huge hole in the music business."

Staton's recent Astralwerks/Honest Jons/EMI cd "Candi Staton", a reissue of her 1969-1973 Muscle Shoals southern soul recordings, has brought her name back to pop music prominence after a decade in the gospel music field. Staton is best-known for her 1976 million-seller "Young Hearts Run Free" and the multi-platinum single "You Got the Love" that was featured in the finale episode of HBO's "Sex and the City."

Bill Carpenter

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A man who manages to straddle whatever musical labels you may wish to apply, Ray Charles has succeeded in whatever musical genre he chose to use. One of the few who genuinely deserve the 'genius' tag, he has provided a wealth of great material for nearly 50 years. Blinded by glaucoma, he nevertheless learned to read and write music and was proficient on several musical instruments by the time he left school.
"Bro Ray" plays all genres from pop to blues to country to jazz to everything inbetween .He can probably rightfully be called the 'Father Of Soul'.

  • Yeah, even my dad, a country music fan, digs Ray. Those country-soul records he did in the '60s really were great; but I also love his earlier r&b pioneering for Atlantic.
    What do you think of Ray's instrumental jazz albums, like THE GENIUS AFTER HOURS?

  • You know oddly enough I don't own one single Ray Charles CD (yeah I know take me in the back and have me shot)
    although I have been a fan of his music for years. He is another one of those artists that I heard growing up but that I can't recall the names of anything specific (beyond the songs that were hits). I was looking for some recomendations from some who are more knowlegeble ?

  • Check out THE BIRTH OF SOUL three-disc set on Atlantic Records. It includes all of Ray's significant Atlantic sides, including "What'd I Say," "Night Time (Is The Right Time," "I Got A Woman," and "Lonely Avenue." From Ray's time
    on ABC Records, there are numerous greatest hits packages available, but be sure to check out "Modern Sounds In
    Country & Western" (Volumes One and Two).

  • "Night Time Is The Right Time" & "I Got A Woman" are probably the 2 Ray Charles songs that I am most familair
    with from when I was a "little boy" !!
    They are both great songs, any other recommendations ?

  • Follow that advice and you can't go wrong. If the 3-CD set is a little pricey for you, there is a single-disc compilation of Ray's Atlantic years that is packed with excellence. I kinda like his jazz sides as well, such as GENIUS + SOUL = JAZZ and THE GENIUS AFTER HOURS. Of course, the MODERN SOUNDS IN COUNTRY & WESTERN MUSIC volumes are
    groundbreaking and genre-busting works, essential to any collection of Brother Ray.

  • Why they compare Michael Bolton to Baby Ray, I HAVE NO IDEA' to me Bolton sounds like a braying donkey. Need I say,
    'Can't Touch That'

  • I agree with your assessment of Boulton the guy is "manufactured product" and is one of the reasons why people have forgotten where this music really comes from.

  • I regard this trend as VERY dangerous!!

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