Sonny Charles (born Charles Hemphill on September 4, 1940) is an R&B/Pop singer with a Soul & Blues background. He was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was the lead singer of Checkmates, Ltd. in the 1960s and 1970s, and it is his vocals that are heard out front on their 1969, Phil Spector-produced hit, "Black Pearl." Charles launched a solo career in the early 1970s, and after a brief reunion with The Checkmates, again in the 1980s. Thereafter, he toured with another member of the Checkmates, Ltd., Marvin "Sweet Louie" Smith, under the Checkmates name.
Charles' 1982 album, The Sun Still Shines, recorded on Highrise Records, hit #136 on the Billboard album chart and #14 on the U.S. Black Albums chart on the strength of the single "Put It in a Magazine". Written by Charles with producer Bobby Paris, the song went to #2 on the R&B Singles chart and reached #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1983. The follow-up single, "Always on My Mind", peaked at #53, but Charles quickly fell from view.
From 2008-2015, Sonny Charles toured with the Steve Miller Band. He currently is enjoying his solo career.