On June 2, 1962, Ray Charles topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the third time with “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” The song was the biggest hit off his groundbreaking crossover album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.
Charles was already a music star, nicknamed “the Genius,” when he decided to record an album of country music. At the time, the civil rights movement in the United States was underway and racial strife widespread. Charles was Black, and the country music industry—its artists and fans alike—were largely white. Charles made Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, blending country, soul, jazz and pop, even though executives at his record company discouraged him from making a country album.
Charles emphasized his unique style in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, saying, "When I sing 'I Can't Stop Loving You,' I'm not singin' it country-western. I'm singin' it like me." Nonetheless, other musicians praised Charles for advancing the genre. Country star Willie Nelson said Charles “did more for country music than any other living human being.”
civil rights movement
(~1954-1968) process to establish equal rights for all people in the United States, focusing on the rights of African Americans.
to overpower or control.
to meet, especially unexpectedly.
to inspire or support a person or idea.
group in a species made up of members that are roughly the same age.
very intelligent person.
category of art.
innovative or pioneering.
to blend or bring together.
to influence to act.
to combine, unite, or bring together.
group opposing, criticizing, or protesting another, usually larger or more well-known, group.
loosely defined geographic region largely composed of states that supported or were sympathetic to the Confederate States of America (Confederacy) during the U.S. Civil War.
acts that cause physical harm to another person.