About Ray Charles’ ex-wife Della Beatrice Howard Robinson?

In this article, you will witness the story of one of the greatest African-American singers, songwriters, music composers, and pianist Ray Charles Robinson Sr’s ex-wife Della Beatrice Howard Robinson.

Since Charles was one of the most influential African-Americans most people already know his story but what they also need to know is about his ex-wife Howard’s story. Robinson has been with many people but it is said that he truly and wholeheartedly loved Howard and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

Howard has her own struggle and story from being born in a small town to being able to live in a well-off community that even many caucasian only dreams of. Find out exciting stories and details about Ray Charles’ ex-wife Della Beatrice Howard Robinson.

Short Biography of Della Beatrice Howard Robinson

Her son Ray Charles Jr writes in his book “You Don’t Know Me: Reflections Of My Father, Ray Charles” that his mother Howard was annoyed her whole life at the fact that she was older than her husband. She is two years older than her husband so judging by that, it means that she was born in the year 1928 or 1929.

It is reported that there were around only 1,500 people in her hometown Richmond, Texas when she was born. At the time most people in the country were in depression but the depression did not affect her hometown as much as others. That might be because they were a cotton and oil country.

For the liberated slaves after the Civil War, her hometown had been a refuge. Although, the train tracks that ran through the middle of town had already become a symbol of racial division by the time Howard was born.

We don’t know who or what her parents’ name is but as per the sources, she lived with her grandmother in Richmond as her mother and aunts were in Houston where they worked as housekeepers.

Talking about her education, it was not easy for her to study as she had to walk 16 miles (25.7KM) every day to reach her school. She used to go to a colored school in Richmond till fourth grade because after that she went to Houston to live with her mother.

She Never Met Her Father

It may sound made up but according to the reports, she never met her father. However, she did know who her father was and saw him as he was living in Houston. She also carried her name but it was unfortunate that they could never meet.

Also, her parents were not married, and not only us but even Howard herself don’t know why because the matter was never spoken in front of her. She used to get annoyed at the fact her father was not around her. As mentioned her father was living in Houston but he was living with another woman instead of Howard’s mother.

She Left Home at a Young Age

She used to live in a peaceful place with her grandmother in Richmond but in Houston, her mother would always come home late and her mother used to party after work which Howard was really against so they would argue a lot.

She could not handle it after she was given the responsibility of her infant baby brother James, so she finally decided to leave her mother’s house and went to live on her own but not long after leaving she realized it was really hard then she imagined so she then went to live with her cousin Robert Lee.

Lesson for teenagers, no matter how much you want to leave your house don’t do it until you are really ready. Howard regrets leaving her mother’s house at an early age even now. She had to survive on her own and she did it primarily by lying.

She said that at that time nobody asked for an ID or birth certificate and as she had a good height she told everyone she was 18 and got herself a job as a waitress. After she graduated from high school she joined a gospel group of Cecil Shaw.

She Used to Sing Gospel

As she was in a Gospel group she used to sing in various concerts and radio. She along with other members would receive a contract and they would go sing in concerts as well as in big churches. They also recorded some Gospel and a few of the remaining recordings were also converted to CDs which can still be found.

We can say that she had a great career as a Gospel singer because she used to get featured on various magazine covers.

How Did She Meet Ray?

della beatrice howard robinson and ray

Howard was a Gospel singer and as mentioned her songs were played on the radio, and when Ray was listening to the radio where he heard “Pray On, My Child” by Cecil Shaw’s Gospel group and the lead singer of the song was Howard herself. He loved how she sounded and he wanted to meet her.

In Janet Hubbard Brown‘s book Ray Charles, it is written that when Ray met Howard she was a chubby beautiful woman the same age as him but Howard had heard that Ray was a drug addict and womanizer. However, she offered him to introduce other members of her group.

Seeing her honestness and humbleness he was really impressed by her and he then started writing love letters to her and he even started calling her every now and then. He finally proposed she stay with him in Dallas.

After their first meeting, Howard was not expecting to see Ray again but in every city, her group went for concerts, she kept running into him. However, she later found out that Ray and Shaw had an agreement so he knew which city they would be next.

She was Married to Another Man Before Ray

At some point in life, everybody longs for their own family so did Howard. She wanted her own children and own home so after meeting with a minister’s good-looking son at church service one night, they fell in love and later married.

Everything was looking good but soon her happiness was all shattered because her husband whose name has not been revealed started physically abusing her whenever he had a bad mood. So she decided to leave her and got a divorce.

After divorcing her she married another man but her second marriage was also a failure as her second husband was more violent than the first one. He was so violent that she was too frightened of him and one day after her groups’ tour she ran to New York instead of returning to him.

You do remember that Ray was following her everywhere right? and even after Howard ran away, she saw him again. As she was on run, she did not have a job or money so Ray rescued her from her suffering. He paid a week’s rent without letting her know and he also managed her to move with him to Dallas.

Marriage and Divorce with Ray

In 1995 Howard got married to Ray and their wedding was really interesting as it took place in a junky room and their vows were read by a woman they had never met. The same year in May Howard gave birth to their first child, Ray Charles Robinson Jr. After a few years they welcomed their children David and Robert Robinson. After some time they moved to Los Angeles.

Ray used to go on touring and when he was away his hunger for sex would consume him so he was seeing Mary Ann Fisher. He was also seeing two other women named Margie Hendricks and Mae Mosely Lyles.

Howard did know about the affairs but she had faith in Ray so she did not say anything and stuck with him finally in 1976, she filed for divorce and she then lived with her son. Even after the divorce, they were on good terms, and when Ray was in rehabilitation Howard used to visit and bring him some food.

Ray left this world on June 10, 2004,  of complications from liver disease at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 73 years old when he died.

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