Ray Charles lighted revolving public sculpture

Collecting stamps might be lucrative, and treasuring them a significant pleasure. They are little works of art.

How about using stamps to plan a family vacation?

“Music Icons Forever” is a three-year-old U.S. Postal Service stamp series and icon Ray Charles showed up on his own stamp Sept. 23, 2013.

Ray Charles Born in Albany, Georgia

That’s suggests a trip to his birthplace, Albany, Georgia. Surely they’ll be playing the Ray Charles song heard first time ever on the day of the stamp release, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”


Music Icon stamp series

Since Albany is surprisingly interesting, there’s a good chance other stamp-centric destinations we didn’t know about previously might be too!

Special events celebrated the Ray Charles stamp release in Atlanta and Los Angeles, so go there, too.

As for Albany, how about a planetarium so high definition that Disney, Universal Studios and Imax install the same kind?  Attached to the planetarium is an interactive Science Museum.

Lush Lands, Pop Music

This is rural Georgia, a town historically surrounded by plantations. That means you get a broad look at lush fields, promising crops and agricultural technology any way you approach, and that Ray Charles music, too.

Touch history here. Rutha Harris sings on second Saturdays at the Civil Rights Institute. She’s one of the original Freedom Singers, singing a message of fairness 50,000 miles up and down the East Coast when a teenager in the 1960s, growing up in Albany.


Civil Rights Institute

“I believe without the music, the movement would not have happened,” Harris says. She sings those songs today with a contagious smile — and tears.


Freedom singer Rutha Harris

Meeting Harris put me face-to-face with a woman sent to jail for what she believed when she was 21. That gave me new context in the Institute exhibits.

A Bigger Understanding

‘Tis a good thing when holidays or day jaunts give new fullness to something I thought I already understood.

Albany’s notion of an aquarium is river life, not the ocean, since the Flint, Chattahoochee and Apalachicola rivers impact the region.

Animals in a zoo named Chehaw appear more like a walk in the woods than a fenced-in facility. The city symphony is stellar.


Turtles for public art

Art options abound too: permanent museum collections and visiting artists, theater and sports events and a multitude with public sculpture around town — turtles reminiscent of the Chicago cows sculpture but suited to this town on the river.

More Music Icons

Two other music icon trips because of the stamps before Ray Charles are Texas remembering Lydia Mendoza with her 12-string guitar and Arkansas because of Johnny Cash.