My knowledge of Ray Charles' music and the impact of his career is pretty pedestrian, but I'll just say this. The guy was incredibly good-natured. He commanded everyone's respect and he was perpetually hip. How can you go wrong digging Ray Charles? There's no way.
"America the Beautiful" is his. No one else owns that song like he does and always will. I also really love the duet he did with Willie Nelson called "Seven Spanish Angels." It's a beautiful piece of poetry, of which Charles' voice is an essential element.
We're going to miss you, Ray. Thanks for your gifts.