Ray Charles to Be Honored With Performing Arts Center

Ray Charles will be played by Jamie Foxx in the forthcoming movie

Atlanta-based Morehouse College will host a star-studded tribute at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to raise money for the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center, which is the centerpiece of a larger complex, the Morehouse College Center for the Arts.

Honorary co-chairs for the event include former President William J. “Bill” Clinton, filmmaker and Morehouse alumnus Spike Lee, music moguls Quincy Jones and Clarence Avant, and Charles’ manager for more than 40 years, Joe Adams.

The twelve-time Grammy(R) winner’s relationship with Morehouse began eight years ago when he was invited to Atlanta to perform with the College’s jazz ensemble. Bill Cosby, who hosts the Sept. 29 event, opened that performance; and a special relationship among Morehouse, Cosby and Charles was born.

Charles, who received an honorary degree from Morehouse, was a long-time friend and supporter of Morehouse. In 2001, Ray Charles gave the College two $1-million gifts to seal a mutual commitment to find, educate and inspire the next generation of musical pioneers. The Ray Charles Performing Arts Center will enable Morehouse College to train these students once they are found.

“Over the years, Ray Charles has been a generous supporter of Morehouse, not only financially but also through his shared commitment to developing students who will be leaders and pioneers in the music industry,” says Dr. Walter E. Massey, president of Morehouse College. “On Morehouse’s campus, Charles’ music, his voice and his camaraderie will not be soon forgotten.”

The gala will celebrate the launch of a $15-million building campaign for the performing arts center. The evening will feature a series of tributes, both live and on video, as well as a preview of Universal Pictures’ feature film, “Ray,” starring Jamie Foxx, which is due in theatres at the end of October. Read more about the movie and watch the trailer in our database.

Artists scheduled to perform during the tribute are: Michael McDonald, James Ingram, Gerald Levert, and Angie Stone. The Morehouse College Jazz Ensemble and a host of other entertainers will also pay tribute to Charles, who died on June 10.

Charles’s final CD, “Genius Loves Company” (Concord Records), a collection of duets with famous friends, is due out Aug. 31.

“For almost 50 years, we’ve called Ray ‘the genius.’ And, he is — take it from me,” says Adams, who managed the music superstar and was his business partner for some 46 years. “He was a man without borders or boundaries, creatively and culturally. Indeed, he and his talents are a gift to all communities.”

About Morehouse: Ranked twice as the number one college in the nation for educating African American students by Black Enterprise magazine, and recognized by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top feeder schools for the 15 most prominent graduate and professional schools in the country, Morehouse College is the nation’s largest, private liberal arts college for men. Founded in 1867, the College enrolls approximately 3,000 students. Morehouse is one of only two Historically Black Colleges or Universities to produce three Rhodes Scholars.

Prominent alumni include Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize laureate and civil rights leader; Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General and director of the National Center for Primary Care at the Morehouse School of Medicine; Sheldon “Spike” Lee, filmmaker and president of 40 Acres & A Mule Productions; Maynard H. Jackson, under of Jackson Securities and the first African-American mayor of Atlanta; and Nima A. Warfield, the first African-American Rhodes Scholar from an Historically Black College or University.

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