Recording Ray Charles In Downtown Miami Circa 1951 Thanks To Sam Cooke in Overtown

“My first studio was here in Miami back in 1948 on Flagler street, first little funky studio. Actually it was my distributing company where I had a piano and a tape machine in the back.

Who’d I record there?

A guy by the name of Ray Charles.

It was just about 1950 or 51′. I knew about him from when I was working up in Jacksonville. People were talking about this kid Ray Charles, this piano player that went to St Augustine School For The Blind.

Sam Cooke ended up introducing me to him at the Mary Elizabeth Hotel in Overtown.

I was one of the few white people they let into Overtown at that time without people sayin’, “Hey, man, you don’t belong here.” Cause they knew I was there for business.

I was the record man yknow.

I was always into black music, so that was where I went to find talent to make records

I was pretty young, I was never a big drinker back then, and I didn’t do any dope, so, I kept it cool with everybody and they kept it cool with me. Overtown was great.

It wasn’t too ghettoish.

I used to hang out in the Harlem Square with Stu Goldman and over at the Sir John Knight Beat. I think it was built after the Harlem Square. When they put the pool in, wow that was a place man yknow.

That’s where Dinah Washington used to play. Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis used to come down here and stay there.

I was building up my first little distribution company, hustling, and I kept a drum set, a piano, a microphone, and a little Ampex tape machine in the back of my warehouse where I would cut sides on all kinds of artists like the blues singer W.C. Baker, and a lot of that early gospel stuff I cut right there.

It was a great time.”

©Jacob Katel and ©Henry Stone Music USA Inc. All Rights Reserved


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