Late musician's son set to tell his father's story

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Ray Charles, an influential figure in American music until his death in 2004, has had his story told a number of times.

This week, the public will get the opportunity to gain insight on his son's perspective of events.

Ray Charles Robinson Jr. has written a memoir of his father titled "You Don't Know Me: Reflections of My Father, Ray Charles."

On Friday, he will introduce and discuss the book at the Albany Municipal Auditorium.

"This is part of his tour to discuss the book," said Teresa Cole, director of the Dougherty County Public Library system. "Ray Charles was born in Albany and we consider him a native son.

"I can't imagine what it was like to grow up in the huge shadow of someone like Ray Charles."

The event is being held as part of a partnership between Dougherty's public library system and the Georgia Center for the Book.

"The publisher contacted us to arrange visits to Georgia, and we immediately made plans for Atlanta and Albany," said Bill Starr, executive director for Georgia Center for the Book. "You can't ignore the significance of Ray Charles being born in Albany. There is a strong historical resonance."

Georgia Center for the Book coordinates 130 such events each year, Starr said.

"I think people would be interested to hear about it in Albany," he said. "It seems that the audience will cut across the races."

Georgia Center for the Book is located in the central location of the DeKalb County Public Library system in Decatur.

The Albany program is set to begin at 7 p.m., and is expected to include a book signing. It is free and open to the public.

"People will be able to purchase copies and have them signed," Cole said.

Cole said that similar events have drawn approximately 50-60 people in the past. The auditorium holds roughly 900 people.

Several copies of the book have been purchased for the Dougherty County Public Library system. The memoir is set to be released Tuesday.

An appearance by Robinson is also set for Thursday at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Central Branch. The programs are being made possible by a grant from the Georgia Humanities Council.

Ray Charles, born Ray Charles Robinson, spent much of his childhood in Florida. He died in Beverly Hills, Calif. at the age of 73. The Ray Charles Plaza at Riverfront Park was unveiled in December 2007 in his honor.