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Ray Charles' Final Farewell, <i>Genius Loves Company</i> - 2004-08-04

Singer Ray Charles died less than two months ago, too soon perhaps to hear the words "his final recording." But for "Brother Ray", whose career spanned nearly 60 years and included hundreds of releases, numerous awards, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, going out in style was the only way to go. When Ray Charles passed away on June 10 at age 73, he left behind one grand musical farewell, Genius Loves Company.

Although Ray Charles performed with many great artists over the years, Genius Loves Company marks the first time he ever recorded an entire album of duets. Charles said, "I thought it was time to have some of my friends that I love and the artists I admire come into my studio and sing with me live, the way we did it in the old days." One of his friends was singer Norah Jones, who teamed up with him on "Here We Go Again."

The one and only Natalie Cole caught the "Fever" with Ray Charles, who admitted in interview after interview that he always wanted to sing just like Natalie's father, Nat "King" Cole.

Ray Charles was a devoted fan of every kind of music. He began in church with gospel, a style that stayed with him through pop, blues, country, jazz, and rock 'n' roll.

So, it's no surprise to hear Charles holding his own on piano with another musical icon, guitarist B.B. King.

Ray Charles called B.B. King his "favorite bluesman." He said, "One note from [King's guitar] Lucille and you know it's B.B." Charles dug deep into his repertoire for this duet, "Sinner's Prayer," which he first recorded during his Atlantic Records days in the 1950s.

Ray Charles is also a fan of Elton John's music, and he chose to record John's Top 10 hit, "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word."

Ray Charles and Elton John sang together on "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word." Elton described singing with Ray Charles as "an emotional experience."

Also sharing that experience on Genius Loves Company is James Taylor, Diana Krall, Willie Nelson, Johnny Mathis, Bonnie Raitt, Gladys Knight and Michael McDonald.

Ray Charles recorded one song away from his 40-year-old studio in Los Angeles, "Crazy Love" with Van Morrison, in honor of Morrison's induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.