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Ray Charles Live Oak


Parent tree location: St Augustine, FL 

Distance from MOSI to parent tree: 145 miles


Blind since the age of six, Ray Charles studied composition and learned many instruments at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. His parents had died by his early teens, and he worked as a musician in Florida for a while before using his savings to move to Seattle in 1947. He got his first Top Ten R&B hit with "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" in 1951. Charles is best known as the father of soul music, and his career is regarded as a significant landmark in the world of modern music. Ray Charles died June 10, 2004.


The Ray Charles Live Oak grows in St. Augustine, Florida, at the school where the renowned musician received his education.


Did You Know?

While living in Tampa, Ray Charles played with a band called The Florida Playboys and began wearing sunglasses on stage. Ray Charles was just 17 years old when he lived and played in Tampa where he made his first three recordings.


Learn more

Learn More about Ray Charles and the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind

Ray Charles Memorial, Los Angeles, CA

Ray Charles Childhood Home, Greenville, FL

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind Museum, St. Augustine, FL


Sensory Garden

From 1937 to 1945, Ray Charles attended the Florida School for the Blind and Deaf in St. Augustine, Florida, where he developed his incredible musical talents. The Sensory Garden beneath this tree contains plants that don’t necessarily need to be seen to be appreciated, as they appeal to the senses of touch, smell, and taste as well. Plants in this garden vary by season and include: Fragrant Olive (Osmanthus fragrans), Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata), Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Chenille plant (Acalypha hispida)

Click here for more information on plants currently found in the Sensory Garden. 

About the Artist:

Lana Tessler is a St. Cloud artist and school teacher, specializing in watercolor and creative paper mediums and figurative interpretations of natural life and fantastic and whimsical themes. She also works on reproductions of medieval art in period appropriate materials. 


The Ray Charles Live Oak piece was inspired by the organic shapes of the tree and the flowing jazz, blues, and soul that Ray Charles was famous for. The images of Ray Charles in contrasting and defined black and white represent the definite lines of the world that Ray lived in due to his blindness.




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