A foundation created by Ray Charles is suing seven of the late singer’s children, accusing them of violating a deal with their father not to claim any rights to his estate. The brewing battle in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles centers on 51 songs written or co-written by Charles. These include “I Got a Woman,” the hit that brought him to national prominence in 1954, and “A Fool For You,” “Mary Ann” and “What’d I Say,” songs that topped the charts early in his career. The Ray Charles Foundation accuses the adult children of sending copyright termination notices to music publishers claiming they owned the songs, which the foundation contends it owns. Their “improper” claims “created an enormous cloud” over the songs’ ownership, causing the “extreme likelihood that the value of these copyrighted assets will be permanently damaged,” the foundation’s suit alleges.
Charles created a $500,000 trust for each of his 12 children two years before his 2004 death in exchange for agreements from them that they “relinquished and waived any further claims to their father’s estate,” the lawsuit said.