11/12/2017

Sam Cooke

Today we remember the passing of the great Samuel Cooke (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964), professionally known as Sam Cooke, was an American recording artist, singer-songwriter and entrepreneur generally considered among the greatest of all time.
Cooke was born "Cook" in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He later added an "e" onto the end of his name, though the reason for this is disputed. He was one of eight children of the Rev. Charles Cook, a Baptist minister, and his wife, Annie Mae.
He had a brother, L.C., who some years later would become a member of the doo-wop band Johnny Keyes and the Magnificents. The family moved to Chicago in 1933. Cooke attended Doolittle Elementary and Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, the same school that Nat "King" Cole had attended a few years earlier. Sam Cooke began his career with his siblings in a group called The Singing Children when he was 9. He first became known as lead singer with the Highway QC's as a teenager joining at the age of 14. During this time, Cooke befriended fellow gospel singer and neighbor Lou Rawls, who sang in a rival gospel group.
In 1950, Cooke replaced gospel tenor Reubert H. Harris as lead singer of the gospel group The Soul Stirrers, founded by Harris. Under Cooke's leadership, the group signed with Specialty Records, where their first recording was for the song "Jesus Gave Me Water" in 1951. They also recorded other gospel tracks, such as "Peace in the Valley", "How Far Am I From Canaan?", "Jesus Paid the Debt" and "One More River", among many other gospel songs, some of which he wrote. Cooke was often credited for bringing gospel music to the attention of a younger crowd of listeners, mainly girls who would rush to the stage when the Soul Stirrers hit the stage just to get a glimpse of Cooke.
Influential as both a singer and composer, he is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocals and importance within popular music. His pioneering contributions to soul music contributed to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Billy Preston and popularized the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown. AllMusic biographer Bruce Eder wrote that Cooke was "the inventor of soul music", and possessed "an incredible natural singing voice and a smooth, effortless delivery that has never been surpassed."
Cooke had 30 U.S. top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964, plus three more posthumously. Major hits like "You Send Me", "A Change Is Gonna Come", "Cupid", "Chain Gang", "Wonderful World", and "Twistin' the Night Away" are some of his most popular songs. Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and a publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. He also took an active part in the Civil Rights Movement.
On December 11, 1964, at the age of 33, Cooke was fatally shot by Bertha Franklin, the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California. After an inquest, the courts ruled Cooke's death to be a justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been called into question by Cooke's family and his wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

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