09 Apr Sam Cooke
When you hear the name Sam Cooke, he needs absolutely no introduction. I immediately recall the songs played in my family home when I was a child. Mum singing along to ’You Send me’, ‘Bring It On Home To Me “, ‘Cupid”, ‘Chain Gang’ and the famous civil rights anthem ‘A Change Is Gonna Come”. Sadly Sam Cooke was killed in a hotel in Los Angeles on this day on 11 December 1964. He was known as the “King of Soul” and his star was soaring. He joined the Soul Stirrers; a popular and ground-breaking gospel group in 1950’s as a relatively unknown However he was blessed with a voice that has been described as sweet and graceful. His distinctive vocals endeared to him to his fellow group members and increased their popularity. He provided the main vocals on the group’s most popular song ‘Jesus Gave Me Water’. He recorded his first non-gospel record under the name Dale Cooke. His music has influenced a generation, and many music genres including Jamaican Music.
Sam Cooke had a quality that dare I say will never come again. Sam Cooke was probably one of the first artist’s to understand the need to control his publishing rights and he set up Star Records with J.W Alexander, in order to do just that. Together they produced artists such as Johnny Taylor and The Valentinos, which included Bobby Womack. Star Records became very influential and it is through this partnership that Sam Cooke found he could be authentic; he produced a rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing In The Wind” a song about social change; this was a test bed for the unforgettable “A Change Is Gonna Come” Sam Cooke was drawn to the emancipation of black people and walked with civil-rights giants of the Day: James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Langston Hughes.
We will never know what a fully-matured artist Sam Cooke would’ve become, but if the music he left us with is anything to go by, then it was bound to be phenomenal. Sam Cooke RIEP, 55 years on your music is as relevant today ; as if was when you first recorded.
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