Ray Charles li­brary opens

Los Angeles Times - - Calendar -

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.

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