Lincoln Project Uses Ray Charles' 'America the Beautiful,' First Time His Music Has Featured in Political Ad

Ray Charles' music has been used in a political ad for the first time, appearing in a video by the Lincoln Project with permission from the Ray Charles Foundation.

The campaign group shared the video yesterday, urging Americans to get out and vote and prevent President Donald Trump from being re-elected.

The Lincoln Project shared a video on Twitter featuring scenes across the U.S. with Charles' "America the Beautiful" as its soundtrack. The video opens with the message "The time has come," before showing scenes of farms, small towns, cities, and landmarks including Mount Rushmore and Seattle's Space Needle.

Vote for America.

— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) November 2, 2020

The video is backed by the final verse of Charles' song, with the lyrics: "You know, I wish I had somebody to help me sing this/(America, America, God shed his grace on thee)/America, I love you America, you see/My God he done shed his grace on thee/And you oughta love him for it/'Cause he, he, he, he crowned thy good/He told me he would, with brotherhood/(From sea to shining Sea)/Oh Lord, oh Lord, I thank you Lord/(Shining sea)."

The video then ends with a message laid over a video of the Statue of Liberty that says: "Vote for hope, for change, for America." At the time of writing, the Lincoln Project video has been viewed 1.2 million times on Twitter and shared more than 20,000 times.

The Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt shared the video on Twitter and said: "This is the first time the music of the great Ray Charles has been used in a political ad. Thank you to the Ray Charles Foundation. @ProjectLincoln VOTE HIM OUT."

The Lincoln Project's permission from the Ray Charles Foundation contrasts the numerous occasions that musicians have tried to stop Trump from using their music at events and rallies without their permission.

Rihanna, Steven Tyler, Pharrell Williams, Elton John, Adele, The Rolling Stones, Brian May and Queen, Brendon Urie, R.E.M and the estates of Prince and Tom Petty are just some of the musicians who have said that Trump did not ask for their permission to use their music, or who have asked his campaign to cease using their songs.

Newsweek has contacted the Ray Charles Foundation for comment.

Ray Charles
American singer, songwriter, and pianist Ray Charles (1930-2004) performs live on stage leaning forward over a piano during a concert circa 1970. The Lincoln Project has used Ray Charles' 'America the Beautiful' in a campaign ad urging people to vote on election day. Getty/David Redfern