Ray Charles’ daughter sings a new tune in Omaha

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November 28th, 2011

Omaha, NE – The music of the late, legendary, pop and soul musician Ray Charles, survives onstage through the dedication and talent of one of his gifted offspring: Sheila Raye, who recently performed in concert here in the heartland.

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Ray Charles was a pioneer in soul music, known for blending rhythm and blues, along with gospel and blues styles to create songs like I Got a Woman, What’d I Say, and Georgia on My Mind.

Shelia Raye singing "Georgia" a popular tune by her father, the late legendary pop and soul musician, Ray Charles. (Photo by Angel Martin)

Sheila Raye Charles Robinson, or Sheila Raye as she’s commonly known, is one of twelve children fathered by Ray Charles. She says her father was married to his music, then to the women he met on the road, and finally to his family.

“It was a little hard for us as his children to watch him be surrounded by the world, and the world love him so much,” she said. “We wanted our daddy to be home with us. He worked 363 days out of the year and maybe 365 (days) if he could. So we lacked in our relationship with him.”

“With that being said,” she added, “I love my father with my whole heart. I just wish I could have gotten more of him.”

Sheila Raye recently performed at the Love’s Jazz and Art Center located in North Omaha, where she put on black sun-glasses and took on the distinctive mannerisms of her father, while singing many of his most popular works.

She also shared some of the most intimate and painful details of her life story with her audience, noting that she spent five years in federal prison, and was addicted to crack cocaine for 20 years.

“I smoked so much crack…I used to spin the glass with alcohol in it, stir it around, and hope a rock would come back,” she said. At that time, she said, she thought her singing career was over.

“I ran the gauntlet of destruction in my life. At the pit of hell, at the lowest form and position in my life, when I cried out to God, he heard my cry,” she said. “And that is why I have such a passion to go around the world and tell people about it.”

Sheila Raye is now working on creating her own songs, and is keeping her faith and the memory of her father with her as she does. “I’m singing a new song, doing a new dance, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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