U.S. # 4807
2013 46¢ Ray Charles
Handicapped by blindness, burdened by racism, and orphaned at age 15, Ray Charles (1930-2004) overcame these immense challenges to become a music pioneer. His fusion of rhythm and blues with gospel and jazz helped give birth to rock ‘n’ roll, prompting Frank Sinatra to call Charles “the only true genius in show business.”
Glaucoma robbed Charles of his vision by age seven, but his mother pushed him to be self-sufficient. Charles chopped wood and even drove a motorcycle. His real love was music, a talent he honed while attending the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.
Quitting school after his mother died, Charles moved to Seattle at 17 and began recording. Two years later, he had his first hit with Confession Blues. A decade of hits followed before Charles scored his first country music chart topper, helping to integrate that style. His signature tune, Georgia On My Mind, became that state’s official song.
Following a series of high profile appearances in the 1990s, Charles died at the age of 73. Over 1,500 fans attended his funeral, which featured performances by B.B. King, Willie Nelson, and Stevie Wonder... stars whose careers benefited because Charles had already broken barriers of race and physical handicap.
The 2013 Ray Charles stamp features a photo by Yves Carrére taken late in his career. The stamp and full pane were designed to resemble a 45rpm record sleeve, with the pane picturing part of a record peeking through the top.
Value: 46¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate
Issued: September 23, 2013
First Day City: Los Angeles, CA and Atlanta, GA
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products
Method: Offset printing in sheets of 144 in 9 panes of 16
Perforation: Serpentine Die Cut 10 ½
Quantity Printed: 60,000,000 stamps
Charles was the third honoree in the Music Icons Series, which includes other legends Lydia Mendoza (#4786), Johnny Cash (#4789), Jimi Hendrix (#4880), Janis Joplin (#4916), and Elvis Presley (#5009).
There were two first day of issues ceremonies, one the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and the other at the Ray Charles Preforming Arts Center in Atlanta.