Genius Loves Company is the final studio album by rhythm and blues and soul musician Ray Charles, posthumously released August 31, 2004 on Concord Records. Recording sessions for the album took place between June 2003 and March 2004. The album consists of rhythm and blues, soul, country, blues, jazz and pop standards performed by Charles and several guest musicians, such as Natalie Cole, Elton John, James Taylor, Norah Jones, B.B. King, Gladys Knight, Diana Krall, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt. Genius Loves Company was the last album recorded and completed by Charles before his death in June 2004.
The album was produced by Concord A&R man, John Burk, who approached Charles with the concept of a duets album for a collaboration of Concord Records and Hear Music, the record label owned by the coffee chain Starbucks. It served as the first original non-compilation release by Hear Music, as well as one of Ray Charles' most commercially successful albums. On February 2, 2005, Genius Loves Company was certified triple-platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America following sales of over three million copies in the United States. On February 13, 2005, the album was awarded eight Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Record of the Year. The cover featured an iconic image by photographer Norman Seeff. The Album of the Year award was presented to coproducer John Burk, who accepted on behalf of himself and coproducer Phil Ramone. (Ramone could not make the trip to Los Angeles for the Grammy ceremony.)
Genius Loves Company proved to be a comeback success for Ray Charles, in terms of sales and critical response, quickly becoming his first top-10 album in forty years and the best-selling record of his career. The release of Genius Loves Company served as Charles' two-hundred fiftieth of his recording career, as well as his last recorded effort before his death on June 10, 2004.
Within its first week of release, the album sold over 200,000 copies in the United States alone, while it debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart, eventually ascending to #1 on March 5, 2005, becoming Charles' first #1 album since Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music in 1962. Genius Loves Company also received a significant amount of airplay on jazz, blues, R&B, urban contemporary and country radio stations, as well as critical praise from well-known publications and music outlets. By the first month of its release, the album had shipped over two million copies in the United States and shipped more than three million worldwide, receiving gold, silver and platinum certifications across North America, Europe and several other regions. The massive commercial success of the album (over 5.5 million copies were sold worldwide up to 2007) was attributed in part to it being distributed and promoted via Starbucks coffeehouses, as well as the distribution and marketing relationship between Concord Records and the Starbucks Hear Music label. The Starbucks Coffee Company proved to be singularly responsible for nearly thirty-percent of the total domestic sales of the album. Following several certifications of gold, platinum and multi-platinum in the United States during the fall of 2004, Genius Loves Company earned a triple-platinum sales certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 2, 2005.
For the week ending September 18, 2004, Genius Loves Company sold 202,000 copies, ranking second on the Billboard 200. This was Charles' highest charting album in over 40 years and represented an opening week record for a duets album (since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking such statistics in 1991). Frank Sinatra's 1993 Duets sold 339,000 during the Christmas week, eight weeks after its 173,500-unit opening. The initial shipment of 733,000 units was an all-time record for the 31-year history of Concord Records and the sales represented a Soundscan record for the company. In addition, the album placed at number five on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for Charles' highest placement since A Portrait of Ray peaked at fifth in 1968. These albums sales occurred despite digital singles sales that saw 12 of the 13 tracks on the album make the Hot Digital Tracks Top 50 chart. The previous record for most tracks from the same album was 9 by Neil Young & Crazy Horse with their 2003 Greendale album. "Here We Go Again" was the download sales leader among the album's tracks, but the 12 tracks totaled 52,000 digital downloads.
In December 2004, announcements were made that the album had earned ten Grammy Award nominations. At the 47th Grammy Awards on February 13, 2005, Genius Loves Company led the annual ceremony with a total of eight awards, including Album of the Year, while its hit single "Here We Go Again" won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Awards won are as listed below:
- Grammy Award for Album of the Year: John Burk, Phil Ramone, Herbert Waltl, Don Mizell (producers), Terry Howard (producer & engineer/mixer), Robert Fernandez, John Harris, Pete Karam, Joel Moss, Seth Presant, Al Schmitt, Ed Thacker (engineers/mixers), Robert Hadley, Doug Sax (mastering engineers)
- Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album: Ray Charles and various artists
- Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical: Robert Fernandez, John Harris, Terry Howard, Pete Karam, Joel Moss, Seth Presant, Al Schmitt & Ed Thacker (engineers)
- Grammy Award for Best Surround Sound Album: John Burk (Producer), Al Schmitt (surround mix engineer), Robert Hadley & Doug Sax (surround mastering)
- Grammy Award for Record of the Year: John Burk (producer), Terry Howard, Al Schmitt (engineers/mixers), Ray Charles & Norah Jones for "Here We Go Again"
- Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals: Ray Charles and Norah Jones for "Here We Go Again"
- Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals: Ray Charles and Elton John for "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" (nominated)
- Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance: Ray Charles & Gladys Knight for "Heaven Help Us All"
- Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s): Victor Vanacore (arranger) for "Over the Rainbow" performed by Ray Charles & Johnny Mathis
In UK, this album was also published as LP record, where track 1 to 7 were on side A and the rest of tracks were on side B .
||"Mary Ann" (with Poncho Sanchez)
||"Unchain My Heart" (with Take 6)
||Teddy Powell, Bobby Sharp
- John Acevedo - Viola
- John Acosta - Cello
- Sai Ly Acosta - Violin
- Tawatha Agee - Vocals, Singer
- Abbey Anna - Design, Design Consultant
- Miguel Atwood - Ferguson Viola
- Briana Bandy - Viola
- Rick Baptist - Trumpet
- Michael Bearden - Keyboards
- Leanne Becknell- Oboe
- Brian Benning - Violin
- Brian Bennison - Copyist
- Robert Berg - Viola
- Wayne Bergeron - Trumpet
- David Blumberg - Arranger, String Arrangements
- Charles Boito - Clarinet
- Reverend Dave Boruff - Saxophone
- Ray Brinker - Drums
- Leslie Brown - Violin
- John Burk - Producer, Liner Notes, Executive Producer
- James Chip Burney - Choir, Chorus
- Rosemary Butler - Choir, Chorus
- Kristy Cameron - Design
- Ray Charles - Piano, Keyboards, Vocals, Author
- Daphne Chen - Violin
- Elenore Choate - Harp
- Tim Christensen - Double Bass
- Ronald Clark - Violin
- Janey Clewer - Choir, Chorus
- Reginald Clews - Violin
- Natalie Cole - Author, Guest Appearance
- Mark Converse - Percussion
- Larry Corbett - Cello
- Franklyn d'Antonio - Violin
- Charlie Davis - Trumpet
- Jill Dell'Abate - Production Coordination
- Greg Dennon - Assistant Engineer
- Joel Derouin - Violin
- Ken Desantis - Assistant Engineer
- Steve Deutsch - Digital Editing
- George Doering - Guitar
- Assa Dori - Concert Master
- Kevin Dorsey - Choir, Chorus
- Assa Drori - Concert Master
- DeAnte Duckett - Choir, Chorus
- Chris Dunn - A&R
- Clydene Jackson Edwards - Choir, Chorus
- Michael Eleopoulos - Assistant Engineer
- Alan Ellsworth - Violin
- Alicia Engley - Violin
- Charles Everett - Violin
- Dennis Farias - Trumpet
- Charles Fearing - Guitar
- Andrew Felluss - Assistant Engineer
- Robert Fernandez - Engineer
- Brandon Fields - Baritone Saxophone
- Kirstin Fife - Violin
- Stefanie Fife - Cello
- Mark Fleming - Engineer
- Ronald Folsom - Violin
- Samuel Formicola - Viola
- Bruce Fowler - Trombone
- Tom Fowler - Bass
- Walt Fowler - Trumpet
- James Gadson - Drums
- Armen Garabedian - Violin
- Berj Garabedian - Violin
- Steve Genewick - Assistant Engineer
- Jim Gilstrap - Choir, Chorus
- Suzanna Giordono - Viola
- Gary Grant - Trumpet
- Nick Grant - Violin
- Keith Gretlein - Assistant Engineer
- Ken Gruberman - Copyist
- Amy Wickman Guerra - Violin
- Robert Hadley - Mastering
- Larry Hall - Trumpet
- Trevor Handy - Cello
- John Harris - Engineer
- David Hayes - Bass
- Xiao Niu He - Violin
- Trey Henry - Bass, Double Bass
- Scott Higgins - Timpani
- Gerry Hilera - Violin
- Mary Hogan - A&R
- Matt Holland - Trumpet
- Terry Howard - Producer, Engineer
- Greg Huckins - Flute
- Alexander Isles - Trombone
- Danny Jacob - Guitar
- John Jennings - Photography
- Elton John - Author, Guest Appearance
- Bashiri Johnson - Percussion
- Norah Jones - Piano, Author, Guest Appearance
- Tony Kadleck - Trumpet
- Hardi Kamsani - Assistant Engineer
- Pete Karam - Engineer
- Suzie Katayama - Cello
- Leslie Brown Katz - Violin
- Bill Kaylor - Assistant Engineer
- Jim Keltner - Drums
- Jaroslav Kettner - Violin
- Jeff Kievit - Trumpet
- David Kilbride - Violin
- B.B. King - Guitar, Author, Guest Appearance
- Gladys Knight - Author, Guest Appearance
- Raymond Kobler - Violin
- Diana Krall - Author, Guest Appearance
- Irvin "Magic" Kramer - Rhythm Guitar
- Johana Krejci - Violin
- John Krovoza - Cello
- Armen Ksadjikian - Cello
- Steve Kujala - Flute
- Lisa Laarman - Creative Director
- Abraham Laboriel - Bass
- Michael Landau - Guitar
- Timothy Landauer - Cello
- Songa Lee - Violin
- Tricia Lee - Violin
- David R. Legry - Liner Notes
- Martha Lippi - Cello
- Irene Madison - Choir, Chorus
- Paul Manaster - Violin
- Shawn Mann - Viola
- George Marinelli - Guitar, Photography
- Don Markese - Clarinet
- Edith Markman - Violin
- Michael Markman - Violin
- Andrew Martin - Trombone
- Fred Martin & the Levite Camp - Choir, Chorus
- Rob Mathes - Conductor
- Johnny Mathis - Author, Guest Appearance
- Robert Matsuda - Violin
- Bob McChesney - Trombone
- Clarence McDonald - Piano, Arranger
- Michael McDonald - Keyboards, Author, Guest Appearance
- Joe Meyer - French Horn
- Alethea Mills - Choir, Chorus
- Jeff Mironov - Guitar
- John Mitchell - Bassoon
- Don Mizell - Producer
- Dennis Molchan - Violin
- Suzette Moriarty - French Horn
- Charlie Morillas - Trombone
- Horia Moroaica - Violin
- Chavonne Morris - Choir, Chorus
- Seven Morris - Choir, Chorus
- Van Morrison - Author, Guest Appearance
- Joel Moss - Engineer
- Jennifer Munday - Violin
- Vitaliano Napolitano - Photography
- Willie Nelson - Guitar, Author, Guest Appearance
- Maria Newman - Viola
- Aminah Ofumbi - Choir, Chorus
- Igor Pandurski - Violin
- Alan Pasqua - Piano
- Todor Pelev - Violin
- Shawn Pelton - Drums
- Edward Persi - Viola
- Robert Peterson - Concert Master
- Casey Phariss - Assistant Engineer
- Darryl Phinnessee - Choir, Chorus
- Andrew Picken - Viola
- Charles Pillow - Tenor Saxophone
- Vladimir Polimatidi - Violin
- Seth Presant - Digital Editing
- Billy Preston - Hammond Organ
- Bonnie Raitt - Slide Guitar, Author, Guest Appearance
- Phil Ramone - Producer
- Shanti Randall - Viola
- Michele Richards - Violin
- Steve Richards - Cello
- David Riddles - Bassoon
- Carolyn Riley - Viola
- Kathleen Robertson - Violin
- John "4 Daddman" Robinson - Drums
- Julie Rogers - Violin
- Anatoly Rosinsky - Violin
- Nancy Roth - Violin
- Robert Sanders - Trombone
- Tom Saviano - Saxophone
- Doug Sax - Mastering
- Kenny Scharf - Trumpet
- Al Schmitt - Engineer, Mixing, String Engineer
- Norman Seeff - Photography
- Richard Shaw - Double Bass
- Bob Shepard - Saxophone
- Dennis Shirley - Photography
- Jaime Sickora - Assistant Engineer
- Joel Singer - Assistant Engineer
- Jamie Siskkora - Assistant Engineer
- Patricia Skye - French Horn
- Bill Airey Smith - Assistant
- Wally Snow - Percussion
- Kurt Snyder - French Horn
- Joe Soldo - Contractor
- Jay Spears - Assistant Engineer
- Edmund Stein- Violin
- Rudolph Stein - Cello
- David Stenske - Violin, Viola
- Dave Stone - Double Bass
- Joseph Stone - Horn (English), Oboe
- James "J.T." Taylor - Author, Guest Appearance
- Ed Thacker - Engineer
- Vaneese Thomas - Vocals, Singer
- Michael Thompson - Guitar
- Fonzi Thornton - Vocals, Singer
- Darrell Thorp - Assistant Engineer
- Raymond Tischer - Viola
- Richard Todd - French Horn
- Kevan Torfeh - Cello
- Mike Vaccaro - Contractor
- David Vanacore - Score Assistance
- Victor Vanacore - Arranger, Score Assistance
- Karl Vincent - Double Bass
- Irina Voloshina - Violin
- Randy Waldman - Piano, Arranger, Keyboards, Rhythm Arrangements
- David F. Walther - Viola
- Herbert Waltl - Producer
- Jennifer Walton - Violin
- Zheng Wang - Violin
- Clarissa Watkins - Choir, Chorus
- Dynell Weber - Violin
- John West - Choir, Chorus
- Ken Wild - Double Bass
- Martin Winning - Tenor Saxophone
- North Wood - Violin
- Terry Woods - Choir, Chorus
- Margaret Wooten - Violin
- Alwyn Wright - Violin
- Phil Yao - French Horn
- Ken Yerke - Violin
- Yang-Qin Zhao - Cello
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- ^ BNET: Ray Charles' Multi-Platinum Genius Loves Company Nominated for 10 GRAMMY Awards. CBS Interactive, Inc. Retrieved on 2008-11-15.
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