Ray Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson on September 23, 1930, in Albany, Georgia. Suffering from glaucoma, he began to lose his sight aged five, and by seven he was completely blind. Charles developed his musical skills while at a boarding school for blind children, where he would perform on a local radio station. After his mother's death in 1945, Charles did not return to school. After two years playing with various small bands, Charles moved to Seattle, and soon started recording. His first hit was Confession Blues in 1949, which reached #2 on the R&B charts. More hits followed, and in 1953 he signed to Atlantic Records. I Got a Woman, released in 1955, ensured Charles' national prominence. He followed this with a string of hits for four years, and then changed to ABC-Paramount records, where he helped bring country into the musical mainstream with the 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Later releases in the 1960s and 1970s were less consistently successful, and he courted controversy in 1981 when he toured apartheid South Africa. He performed at two presidential inaugurations - Ronald Reagan's second in 1985, and Bill Clinton's first in 1993. His song Georgia on My Mind was named state song of Georgia in 1979, and appeared on Quincy Jones' 1990 hit I'll Be Good to You. His last public appearance was in April 2004, when his recording studio in Los Angeles was named a historic landmark. He died on June 10, 2004.