Inspired by Ray: The Ray Charles Symposium, September 21-23

By
Nick Balkin
June 18, 2012

No other artist in history understood the connections between America's great musical styles—blues, jazz, gospel, and country—better than Ray Charles. On September 21–23, the Berklee American Roots Music Program presents Inspired by Ray: The Ray Charles Symposium, an artistic and academic conference that will study Charles's singular genius and his contributions to American music. The event concludes September 23 on what would have been Charles's 82nd birthday. 

On Saturday, September 22, a concert celebrating Charles's music will be held at the Berklee Performance Center featuring bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs; jazz guitarist John Scofield; blind singer-songwriter Raul Midón; Grammy-winning composer and Charles's former music director Victor Vanacore; guitarist/songwriter Doug Wamble; and Tracy Bonham and Margaret Glaspy with the Wayfaring Strangers.

Though a series of panels, presentations, and concerts, the conference will explore a variety of topics that any serious consideration of Charles raises: his singing, piano playing, and arranging; the songs he performed; the relationship between jazz, blues, gospel, and country music in the U.S.; his business savvy (he was the first artist to negotiate the right to own his master recordings); and his identity as a blind artist. For the full schedule of events, visit berklee.edu/events/inspired-by-ray/schedule.

Inspired by Ray: The Ray Charles Symposium is presented by the Berklee American Roots Music Program in collaboration with the Ray Charles Foundation. Registration, opening Friday, June 21, is $100 and includes access to all panels and the concert at the Berklee Performance Center. To register, visit berklee.edu/events/inspired-by-ray/registration.