The Ray Charles Memorial Library Opens

LOS ANGELES – The Ray Charles Memorial Library will officially open on September 23, 2010, the 80th anniversary of the birth of the iconic American entertainer, it was announced by Valerie Ervin, President of The Ray Charles Foundation. The Library is located on the ground floor of the historic Los Angeles landmark building Mr. Charles designed for his offices and recording studio. Today, the building’s second floor continues to house the operations of The Ray Charles Foundation (

“The Library was envisioned not solely as a tribute to his life and extraordinary accomplishments,” stated Ms. Ervin. “It is also aligned with the core of his humanitarian work — to use his story to inspire and educate young people and those less fortunate on how to conquer adversities and create success in spite of obstacles.”

The centerpiece of the Ray Charles Memorial Library is a self-guided interactive exhibit divided into six galleries that highlight significant aspects of his life and career. Visitors will see in poignant detail how Mr. Charles was a pioneer not only as a musician but also in every aspect of his enterprise encompassing both creative and business sides. The exhibits trace his childhood, schooling and development as a musician; breakthrough recordings; historic cross-over beyond R&B to Pop and Country genres; mastery of his recording studio; managing the business and unprecedented artistic independence; recognition with 17 Grammys, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, performances for Presidents and world leaders, Academy Award-winning biographical film; and lasting legacy through his foundation and timeless creative works.

The experience includes a fifteen-minute introductory film, touch screen portals, photographic panels, and participatory activities (such as mixing a song and hearing the resulting performance by Ray Charles or singing along on a stage as a background Raelette). Mr. Charles’ piano, recording equipment, stage wardrobe and legendary sunglasses are among the hundreds of artifacts on display. The Library will also house the extensive archives of recordings, photographs, documents, awards, gifts and other objects of historical importance.

In the first few months of operation, The Ray Charles Memorial Library will be open exclusively to school groups by invitation only, with plans to extend access to the general public later in 2011. “First and foremost, we wanted young people to feel free to walk about and discover how it was possible for Mr. Charles to structure his world and accomplish great things,” explained Ms. Ervin. “We want them to walk away from this place with changed perspectives about themselves, inspired by the possibilities. At a time when music and arts curriculum in the schools has declined, we also hope the Library will be a catalyst to encourage young people to study music and learn about the business side of the industry as well.”

The Ray Charles Foundation has supported a broad range of educational institutions and organizations that extend greater opportunities to underprivileged American youth for nearly a quarter century. The Foundation has also been involved in funding projects to assist the hearing-impaired, since Mr. Charles considered the inability to hear music a far greater disadvantage than blindness.

The Ray Charles Memorial Library is located at 2107 West Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles.

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