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
Noun

(~1954-1968) process to establish equal rights for all people in the United States, focusing on the rights of African Americans.

dominate
Verb

to overpower or control.

encounter
Verb

to meet, especially unexpectedly.

encourage
Verb

to inspire or support a person or idea.

generation
Noun

group in a species made up of members that are roughly the same age.

genius
Noun

very intelligent person.

genre
Noun

category of art.

groundbreaking
Adjective

innovative or pioneering.

incorporate
Verb

to blend or bring together.

inspire
Verb

to influence to act.

integrate
Verb

to combine, unite, or bring together.

opposition
Noun

group opposing, criticizing, or protesting another, usually larger or more well-known, group.

South
Noun

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.

violence
Noun

acts that cause physical harm to another person.

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