EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 21, 2013

Church to host musical legend's daughter

ANDOVER — It will be an afternoon of “deliverance and God moving through the people” beginning the moment Sheila Raye Charles walks through the door.

The daughter of music legend Ray Charles will be the subject of “An Afternoon with Sheila Raye Charles” at Andover Baptist Church, 7 Central St., Saturday at noon.

There, she will share her story in song and sermon at the predominantly African American church. The event is free to the public and will be followed by a luncheon.

“We’re really looking to open up the doors to our church to Andover and the surrounding community,” said Denise Wynn, missions ministry chairwoman at the church. “We want to share this amazing gift that we’ve been blessed with in the community.”

Sheila Raye Charles’ story is one of personal pain defeated through a relationship with God. After being sexually molested as a child and battling a crack cocaine addition for more than 20 years, Charles eventually lost custody of her own five children and found herself in federal prison three times.

It was there that “God reached out in a pit of hell and pulled me out,” she said.

“When I reached the darkest part of my life, Ray Charles couldn’t save me,” Sheila said. “I couldn’t find my way out of a wet paper bag; that’s how hurt I was, how distraught I was...God did for me what I couldn’t do myself.”

Her presentation in Andover will also focus on her father, she said.

“If there’s one thing you should know about Ray Charles, Ray didn’t just let anybody in his very close-knit circle of music. The fact that he even let me in to record with, him let me know I had something special,” she said. “It wasn’t until my relationship with God that I knew what that special something was.”

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