The Grand Ole Opry gave a rare salute to soul genius Ray Charles with performances from Darius Rucker, Boyz II Men, Ronnie Milsap and LeAnn Rimes for an upcoming public television special.

In this Oct. 8, 2018, photo, Charlie Wilson performs during “An Opry Salute to Ray Charles” at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Charles grew up listening to the Opry, but it was his landmark two-volume set “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music,” in the early ’60s that opened up the genre to a whole new audience.

In this Oct. 8, 2018, photo, Boyz II Men perform during “An Opry Salute to Ray Charles” at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Rucker, who hosted the TV special that will be airing in February, says Charles went out on a limb to record country music when others dismissed the idea.

In this Oct. 8, 2018, photo, LeAnn Rimes performs during “An Opry Salute to Ray Charles” at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

But the songs were huge pop hits and changed the image of country music for decades. Rucker says Charles deserves a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Source: The Associated Press

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