Golden Duet Found

Ray Charles was born in 1930 and became a pioneer and icon in the music genres of soul, blues and gospel. He also played a significant role in racially integrating the music industry, and in 2004 the world bid farewell to one of its most legendary musicians. Born two years after Ray Charles, in 1932, Johnny Cash passed away a year before Charles, but was a musician with a distinctive voice and is one of the most celebrated country stars ever. His music included folk, rock and roll, blues and gospel. Even though the world saw him as a rebel, there was a softer side to this musical phenomenon.

Even though these two artists seem to be very different from one another, there are a few personal traits that do stand out, such as their humbleness and their enthusiasm to assist others. Another feature they have in common, which was only recently discovered, is a duet these memorable musicians recorded together, but that was never released. While going through the archives of the Ray Charles Memorial Library, the foundation’s president, Valerie Ervin uncovered not only the forgotten track recorded by Charles and Cash, but two letters in which the musicians discussed the duet. An excerpt from one of the letters that Johnny Cash wrote to Ray Charles on 11 December 1981, reads: “I am so proud when I tell people that I have recorded a song with you… I hope you like this tape. I realize that the orchestration isn’t big and I don’t sing very good, but I think the thing has a feeling and a quality that the fans would really enjoy.” At first, after reading the letters, the actual tracking down of the recording was not as easy as expected, but through the team work of various people it was finally discovered in June 2010.

Kris Kristofferson wrote the song Why Me, Lord? which was recorded by Cash and Charles in 1981. Johnny Cash was on the lead vocals for the song, with Ray Charles as backup vocals. Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Matters, a new album in the Ray Charles collection, will be released on 26 October 2010 and will feature this golden duet.