Ray Charles Honored with USPS Stamp
Ray Charles is joining Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and Howlin’ Wolf as the latest music legend to appear on a U.S. Postal Service stamp.
Available Sept. 23 to celebrate what would have been Charles’ 83rd birthday, the stamp is the newest addition to the Postal Service’s “Musical Icons” series, which paid tribute to Johnny Cash in June and Tejano music star Lydia Mendoza last March. (The Charles tribute is a Forever stamp, which is a first class postage stamp that can be used to mail letters weighing 1 ounce or less, regardless of the current postal rate.)
Concord Records is celebrating the stamp with the release of Ray Charles Forever, a CD/DVD out Sept. 24 with 12 remastered classics including “America The Beautiful” and a previously unreleased version of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” A bonus track, “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” is available on the USPS edition, sold only in post offices.
“‘Georgia On My Mind,’ ‘Hit The Road Jack,’ ‘What’d I Say’ and ‘I’ve Got A Woman’ are among the many hits that are standards and meet the test of time,” said Valerie Ervin, president of the Ray Charles Foundation and co-executive producer of the collection. “But to mark this momentous occasion, I selected [other] songs that also exemplify the forever quality of his performances.”
The 21-minute DVD features interviews and live performances from the 1990s of “Imagine” (1998), “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” (1992) and “A Song For You” (1997).
The stamp is the latest addition to the dozens of accolades Charles garnered over his 58-year career. He received the National Medal for the Arts, the Kennedy Center Honors, 17 Grammys and the Recording Academy’s prestigious President’s Merit Award. One of the original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Charles’ music melded r&b, jazz, blues and country. He passed away on June 10, 2004.
Charles’ stamp follows the Postal Service’s long history of honoring jazz greats with commemorative stamps. The USPS released a page of stamps with 10 jazz artists as part of its “Legends of American Music” series in 1995, and in 2011 honored the genre as a whole with the illustrated Jazz stamp.