Charles honored with Ga. statue memorial

Dec. 8, 2007 at 2:19 PM

ALBANY, Ga., Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Ray Charles was honored recently in his hometown of Albany, Ga., where a bronze statue of the famed musician was unveiled for the first time.

Former state Rep. John White helped unveil the memorial to the late blues pianist this week at Ray Charles Plaza, calling the new riverfront park a new start for the city and one if its most famed former residents, The Albany (Ga.) Herald reported Saturday.

"Today begins a season for Albany, Ga., and a time for the legacy of Ray Charles, a son of this soil," White said during Friday's emotional ceremony.

The plaza in downtown Albany was part of a major renovation plan from Albany Tomorrow Inc., that also is adding to the Albany Civil Rights Institute.

Quoting one of Charles' most popular songs, Albany Mayor Willie Adams presented Charles' daughter, Sheila Raye, with a key to the city.

"To the naysayers, who still exist, I say to you, 'Hit the road, Jack, and don't you come back no more no more,'" Adams said of criticism that has swirled around the renovation plan.

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