It is a well-known fact that beloved blues singer songwriter, Ray Charles, struggled with heroin addiction early on in his career. He was able to overcome his addiction after a stay in rehab in the 60s, but it seems one of his daughter’s went through a similar struggle.
Sheila Raye Charles is one of the singer’s 12 children and she too went down the path of addiction for years before finally experiencing recovery.She is traveling to a number of venues including churches and prisons across the country to speak about her experiences with addiction while singing and performing some of Ray Charles’ music as well. Sheila is now living a more successful sober life after recovering from her issues of drug abuse.
A Difficult Childhood and Music Career
Ray Charles had children with nine different women and Sheila Raye was the seventh of twelve. Charles unfortunately, did not act as a father figure for Sheila who was not able to meet him until the age of 14. She was able to only speak with him on the phone for most of her childhood and discovered his lack of parenting skills when she finally met him in Los Angeles.
After that he would visit occasionally but she experienced the sense that his children were not a high priority in his life. In spite of her difficult childhood, Sheila began to pursue a music career as a singer and was even able to record her own songs in Ray Charles’ studio although the recordings were never released.
She struggled with her music career and eventually developed an addiction to crack cocaine that would land her in jail at age 39. Her addiction began in the 70s, after Ray Charles was able to beat his addiction to heroin, and she abused cocaine for 20 years before finally making the decision to become sober.
Low Points of Addiction
Sheila Raye Charles began getting heavily into crack cocaine after suffering from post-partum depression following the birth of her second child. The euphoria that she experienced while using cocaine helped her get through life and she found herself unable to quit.
Her addiction became so severe that she lost all five of her children either through giving them up for adoption or having them taken away because of her drug abuse. She was also arrested on three separate occasions but it was her last stay in prison that helped her to realize she wanted to quit.
She had a spiritual revelation in her cell as she believed God told her to speak about her issues around the world. Now Sheila Charles is involved in her tour that will take her to prisons and churches to discuss her addiction and how she was able to recover. She is doing her speaking engagements as volunteer work and merely asks for donations for gas or a hotel room.
After being told she was washed up by people in the music industry, Sheila is now grateful to be able to sing on her current tour and pay tribute to her father by performing his songs. She also gets the opportunity to share her stories of the ups and downs of addiction with her ultimate redemption. Her goal is to share her spirituality and her positive transformation to people who are also struggling with addiction or other personal problems.
Some of her events will be sponsored by faith-based organizations which help recovering drug addicts through spiritually-centered treatment for addiction. Sheila Charles is doing her part to support these programs and use her story as an inspiration for others to seek and help and recovery for their addiction problems.
Photo Credit: Shelby County Reporter