“Music to me is like breathing. I don’t get tired of breathing; I don’t get tired of music” – Ray Charles
Kassner Music is proud of its continuing association with The Ray Charles Foundation, a charity set up in 1986 by the music icon after whom it is named.
The Ray Charles Foundation is “dedicated to providing support in the area of hearing disorders and the empowerment of young people through education by offering support to educational institutions and non-profit education programs. Ray Charles said: “The inability to hear is a handicap; not the inability to see.” The vision of The Ray Charles Foundation is to instil in the youth of America that “there is no challenge too great one cannot overcome.””
To help to achieve these goals, Charles bequeathed to The Foundation a musical legacy that he had built during the course of his astonishing career, including the Tangerine and Racer Music publishing catalogues. Administered by Kassner Music outside of North America, the catalogue encompasses an outstanding body of celebrated works including the chart-topping, multi award-winning phenomenon “Hit the Road Jack” written by Percy Mayfield; “Stranger In My Own Home Town” also written by Mayfield and featuring on Elvis Presley’s 1969 album release Back In Memphis; and “Sticks and Stones”, a song by Titus Turner, best known for Ray Charles’ 1960 recording and synced in 2016’s Oscar-nominated motion picture Hidden Figures. To this day, “Hit the Road Jack” remains as prevalent and influential as it was at the time of its release. Charles was a pioneer of the soul music genre, with his innovative stylings reflected no better than in his rendition of this song.
Also included in the catalogue is “Your Love Is So Doggone Good”, first released by Ray Charles in 1970 and later covered by an array of artists including vocal group The Whispers, R&B performer Esther Phillips and southern soul creative force Isaac Hayes. Hayes’ version of the song called “Medley: Ike’s Rap III/Your Love Is So Doggone Good” was sampled in last year’s release by singer-songwriter Lianne Le Havas, “Bittersweet”.
A legendary songwriter and performer with a career that spanned almost 60 years, Ray Charles made a lasting impact on music across the globe. His life was memorably portrayed in the critically acclaimed film Ray starring Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx.
Valerie Ervin, President of The Ray Charles Foundation said: “Ray Charles’ wish was for his musical legacy and charitable gifts to continue on for eternity. Kassner Music has assured this with their outstanding administration of the Ray Charles catalogue for many years. We are happy to continue this association. Kassner is more than the gold standard, they are rare earth metals”.
David Kassner, Managing Director of the Kassner Music group said: “It is a matter of immense pride for Kassner Music to be entrusted by The Foundation to represent the legacy of one of the greatest and most influential musicians of the twentieth century, Ray Charles. He was much more than a global superstar – he was an outspoken champion of change, taking a stand against segregation in the early 60s and lobbying for race equality and civil justice. It is fitting that Ray Charles’ benefaction continues to promote diversity in science and medicine, focusing on students from historically black colleges and universities. We feel honoured to be working with Valerie Ervin, the President of The Foundation, whose dedication to the memory of Ray Charles and the stated aims of The Foundation is boundless”.
23rd September 2020 marks what would have been Ray Charles’ milestone 90th birthday. In celebration of this important occasion, The Foundation will be organising a special tribute, as will many of his dedicated fans and supporters worldwide.