Ray Charles’s Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2 are major landmarks in American culture. Charles demonstrated that great songs with signature performances work in all genres. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” was a standard in country, soul and R&B, as he proved. Modern Sounds also brought America together during the Sixties’ civil rights movement. Charles became one of the first recording artists to have ownership and complete control of the masters. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music has been listed among the greatest slbums of all time, along with the Beatles, Dylan, Motown, Springsteen, Hendrix and the Beach Boys.
These groundbreaking albums, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vols. 1 & 2 are being reissued on digital and CD on February 22nd, 2019 via Concord Records, also becoming available for the first time on streaming platforms. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 1 will be re-released on vinyl for the first time since 2012, with a deluxe edition version containing both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 on high-fidelity, 180g vinyl.
This past fall, Ray was honored by the Grand Ole Opry with An Opry Salute to Ray Charles, with performances celebrating the iconic Modern Sounds tracks and his contributions to country music. In addition, Charles was inducted into both the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame, a program on which he performed multiple times, and the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame.
“Ray Charles was one of the most important artists in the history of American popular music,” says Concord Records President John Burk, “and his Modern Sounds albums were some of his most impactful works. In addition to massive commercial success, these incredible recordings had a huge social and cultural impact, breaking down long established genre and racial barriers.”
“We are excited about this eventful release, an opportunity for longtime fans to enjoy this music and to introduce new generations,” says Valerie Ervin, President of the Ray Charles Foundation.
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol.1 became an instant classic when it was first released in 1962. The album spawned four chart-topping singles: “Born to Lose,” “Careless Love,” “You Don’t Know Me,” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” the latter (and the album itself) being RIAA-certified Gold in only one month.
The success led to the recording of Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 2. Focusing more on balladry, one side featured performances by the Ray Charles Big Band with the Raelettes, and the other with a string section and the Jack Halloran Singers. Like its predecessor, it was released to both critical and commercial acclaim. In 1999, Vol. 1 was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame for “historical significance,” as was the lead single, “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” in 2001.