Behind the Shades: Hope Beyond the Darkness by Sheila Raye Charles
This new book, Behind the Shades, is the story of the famous singer Ray Charles’ daughter, Sheila Charles, and her tumultuous life getting caught up in drugs leading to her imprisonment. Trying to win her father’s love, Sheila constantly yearned for her father’s attention amidst his busy career. Through a combination of bad choices, having basically no father to care for her, Sheila tells of her time in prison and the way her and her mother looked at the enigmatic figure Ray for comfort. Part of the book is Sheila’s inclusion of a manuscript her mother, Sandra Betts, had written about her time with Ray.
The book points out the way that faith, including Sheila’s blossoming faith encouraged in prison through church can ignite a person’s calling. From very early on, Sheila’s voice catapulted her onto the road of sure stardom. Yet, through the ups and downs of life, including getting caught up in drugs, Sheila was not able to realize her singing career until she got out of prison. With a sober mind and body alongside a restored relationship with her daughter, Sheila is on the right track to using her vocal talent to glorify God. The book also describes how life in the prison was a battle of truth over lies. There were many times where there was a sharp reaction to those who regularly attended worship and those who didn’t Sheila was not a person to segregate her life and cut off contact from those who didn’t attend worship. She wanted others in prison to see the light that she had seen. What struck me was how her thoughts on how meth messed people up to such an extent that they were given over to evil. Sheila would also minister to these women by praying over them, casting out the evil spirit, and calling on the name of Jesus. This type of spiritual warfare is not something I’ve seen but only have heard about.
The story of a life strangled by the sin of a father and the sinful choices of a daughter was evident throughout this book. There were many times in the book that I found that Sheila divulged information concerning the devious deeds of her life that were unnecessary or unhelpful to the story. Yet, I wonder if this kind of writing was a cathartic experience Sheila as she sought to be free from her past guilt and condemnation. I hope that this book encourages other people who have no father or who wish they had a more present one to see that things can change with faith. This was a hard book to read but one that needed to be written. If you have an idealistic view of Ray Charles before reading this book, this book will take your view and smash it to pieces.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and Vox Dei Press for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.