Ray Charles: The Genius of Soul | Chicago Reader

Ray Charles: The Genius of Soul

Produced for the PBS series American Masters, this 1992 portrait of the inimitable singer serves up the usual tossed salad of abbreviated performance clips (“I Got a Woman,” “What'd I Say,” “Georgia on My Mind,” etc), accolades from friends and associates (Quincy Jones, Merry Clayton, David “Fathead” Newman), and conventional wisdom from big stars (Billy Joel, explicating the sorrow of black America). Charles, a notoriously guarded and irascible figure, strikes genial poses more in keeping with his later status as a Diet Pepsi pitchman than with the volcanic talent who crossed over effortlessly from one record chart to the next during the 50s and 60s. Yvonne Smith wrote, directed, and provided the awestruck narration. 55 min.

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