Albany Georgia, birthplace of Ray Charles, has memorialized the city's most famous native son with a downtown park that bears his name, airs his music, and features a one-of-a-kind sculpture that is one of only two sculptures in the world that bear the likeness of the legendary blues and jazz singer.
Located in Downtown Albany on Front Street between Oglethorpe Blvd. and Broad Avenue (see map), directly accross the street from Hilton Garden Inn, Ray Charles Plaza, designed by landscape architectural firm Jordan, Jones and Goulding of Norcross Georgia, sits on the bank of the Flint River and gives Riverfront Park visitors the experience of a Ray Charles performance. A revolving, illuminated, bronze statue of Ray Charles seated at a baby grand piano, the work of sculptor Andy Davis, is the park's centerpiece.
As water flows down the sides of the statue, music by the legendary blues singer plays on the park's loudspeakers. Students from Georgia Academy for the Blind assisted Mr. Davis with the design. The students and Mr. Davis also designed a touchable miniature version of the statue that features markings in braille.
The statue is flanked by two walkways designed as keyboards with raised sharps and flats that form benches. The walkways connect to the Albany Riverwalk. The park's "scenery" includes a large treble clef in the plaza floor and "moonlight in the pines" from the song, Georgia On My Mind. Reflecting Georgia's longleaf pine forests, the "Moonlight in the Pines" scenery consists of illuminated loblollies, longleaf pines, live oaks and grasses.
Visiting Ray Charles Plaza in Albany Georgia is like attending a Ray Charles concert on the bank of the Flint River.