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The story of «Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music,» the landmark 1962 recording by Ray Charles, is featured in this edition of the podcast series, «Ray Charles, Genius,» produced by Bret Primack for Concord Records.
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music is a studio album by American R&B and soul musician Ray Charles, released in April 1962 on ABC-Paramount Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in early to mid-February 1962 at Capitol Studios in New York City and at United Recording Studios in Hollywood, California. Production was handled entirely by Charles and renowned conductor Sid Feller. A departure from Charles’s previous work, the album features country, folk, and Western music standards covered and redone by Charles in popular song forms of the time, including R&B, pop, and jazz.
As his fifth LP release for ABC-Paramount, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music became a rapid critical and commercial success as it brought Ray Charles further mainstream notice, following his tenure for Atlantic Records. With the help of the album’s four charting singles, Charles earned recognition in the pop market, as well as airplay on both R&B and country radio stations. Modern Sounds and its lead single, «I Can’t Stop Loving You», were both certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1962, as each record had shipped 500,000 copies in the United States.
Regarded by many critics as Charles’s best studio album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music has been considered by several music writers to be a landmark album in American music. The album’s integration of soul and country music bent racial barriers in popular music, amid the height of the African-American civil rights struggle. In the process of recording the album, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to exercise complete artistic control over his own recording career. In 2003, the album was ranked number 104 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.