Ray Charles library opens
On what would have been his 80th birthday, Ray Charles has joined the likes of past presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan with his own namesake library in Southern California.
The Ray Charles Memorial Library officially opened its doors Thursday night. Housed in the studio and office building Charles built in South Los Angeles in the early 1960s, the library features interactive exhibits about the musician’s life and career.
Charles’ friends and colleagues — including Quincy Jones, B.B. King, producer Jimmy Jam and filmmaker Taylor Hackford — welcome visitors via video to each section of the library, which is more like an interactive museum. Touch screens invite guests to explore Charles’ most memorable recordings, while exhibits feature some of his Grammy awards, stage costumes, old contracts and ever-present sunglasses.
Charles’ fans can see his personal piano and saxophone, his collection of microphones and letters he received from Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Johnny Cash. The library also includes a mixing station, where visitors can compose their own mixes of Charles’ classic rhythms and melodies, and a karaoke room, where they can sing along with Charles and the Raelettes.