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Singers to help honor Charles

The Alumni Singers of St. Petersburg will participate this weekend in a Ray Charles tribute in Greenville, where the late musician grew up.

The group will perform during Saturday's 10 a.m. unveiling of a life-sized bronze statue of Charles, who died in 2004.

The singers will perform several songs Charles recorded, including Hallelujah, I Just Love Her So, Here We Go Again, You Don't Know Me, Come Rain or Come Shine and It Was a Very Good Year.

Greenville Mayor Elesta Pritchett, a childhood friend of Charles', will preside. The statue, which shows Charles sitting on a bench at a piano keyboard, will be permanently displayed in Haffye Hays Park on U.S. 90.

On Friday, a 7 p.m. tribute concert will be held at Van H. Priest Auditorium in Madison. It is being presented by North Florida Community College.

Featured will be the Leon Anderson Jazz Group from Florida State University, the Florida A&M Jazz Ensemble and the Valdosta State University Jazz Ensemble.

Concert attendees also will hear stories about Charles from people who knew him from his childhood.

Charles, his orchestra and his singing group, the Raylettes, performed at NFCC in 1972 when Charles was celebrating his 25th year as a professional musician.

Charles has a connection to St. Petersburg through performances at the old Manhattan Casino in the late 1940s. He also wrote St. Petersburg, Florida Blues.

The Alumni Singers, a volunteer community choral group, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a year of concerts. The group has its roots in Gibbs High School.

For information about the tribute weekend and concert tickets, visit www.nfcc.edu/RayCharles/Memorial.html.

Greenville and Madison are east of Tallahassee on U.S. 90 and are accessible via Interstate 10.

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