MADISON CO., FL (WTXL) - Ray Charles is one of the world's greatest music legends and an influential artist who pioneered soul music during the 1950s.
Born in 1930, Ray Charles grew up in his mother's hometown of Greenville, Florida.
Elesta Pritchutt is one of Charles's childhood friends and says as he started singing and dancing, their little town quickly became a musical hot spot, "We grew up together and I was about 3 or 4 years old and I really remember him, and so he was a typical boy."
Pritchutt says they use to run around the Jellyroll Neighborhood turning everyday items into musical instruments, around that same time; Charles began to lose his sight.
Pritchutt says though that his loss of sight didn't dampen his childhood antics, "When I got ready to sit down, what you think he did? Snatched the chair from under me precisely at the time, I mean right when I got ready to sit as if he had eyes to see when I was ready to sit.
Within a few years, Charles was completely blind, but that didn't stop his plans. His career took off in 1950 after playing back up piano.
Charles's music has inspired generations; films have even been created based on his life and legacy.
After top hit singles and number one albums, Charles has made his mark on the music industry and his way into the hall of fame.
Pritchutt says he will always be remembered as a music legend that made it, despite all odds, "I want the young children to know even though he was very poor, he made it greatly!"