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PHSC Celebrates its 50th Anniversary and Black History Month: Ray Charles

Close up of Ray Charles in Natalie Blake’s Clay Tile Mural “Noonday Sun: Central Ave in its Heyday. Circa 1920-1967”

Ray Charles

Ray Charles (1930-2004), legendary blues musician, was born in FL and got his early career start performing in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa.

  • Performed on the “chitlin' circuit” – a series of Black dance halls throughout the south​
  • Moved to Tampa in 1947 and lived with his girlfriend, Louise Mitchell, with whom he had a daughter, Evelyn.​
  • Honed his skills as performer in the various clubs of the Tampa Bay area before leaving to pursue bigger opportunities in Seattle. ​
  • Charles made some of his first recordings during his time in Tampa.


Bancroft, Colette, “Tampa Bay was Home Turf,” Tampa Bay Times, Jun. 11, 2004.  ​

Kelly, McKenna, “When Ray Charles Came to Tampa,” Tampa Magazines, May 19, 2020, ​

“Ray Charles,” Florida Division of Arts and Culture, Accessed No. 21, 2022.​