Samuel “Sam” cooke (January 22, 1931-December 11, 1964
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Sam Cooke was born January 22, 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He moved to Chicago with his family where, like most black entertainers of that era, began his music career in his father’s Church at the age of nine. As a teenager, Cooke sang with his brother in a trio called the Hiway Q. C.’, a very popular Chicago based gospel group. It was during this time that he was discovered by J.W. Alexander of the Pilgrim Travelers.
J.W. formed the legendary gospel group, The Soul Stirrers and Cooke became the groups lead vocalist in 1951. He toured with the Soul Stirrers for six years and recorded with the group several albums on the Aladdin Label.
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Cooke catapulted the Soul Stirrers to stardom and became a vocal legend. His clear , clean vocal style became a household phenomena which was imitated by many up and coming artist. He is one of the first Black artists to bridge the popularity gap with black and white audiences and entertainers.
Cooke left the Soul Stirrers after recording a secular piece, “Lovable”. While this piece was an instant hit, it led to the demise of the Soul Stirrers. The Black Community, at that time, did not support the secularization of Gospel music. The Soul Stirrers were shunned and Cooke took a short sabbatical from music of any kind.
Cooke returned in 1957 to begin a full secular music career. He is considered one of the founders of Soul Music; a blend of secular lyrics with gospel influence. He blazed a pathway which many great artists followed.
Cooke was a prolific composer and recorded 29 top 40 hits. All time favorites include: A Change is Gonna Come, Chain Gang, You Send Me and Wonderful World. He was a sound business man and founded his own record label and publishing company.
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Cooke was shot to death in 1964 by a hotel manager in Los Angeles. His death was ruled a justifyable homicide as it ws said that cooke was drunk and attempted to rape his date. However new inquireis into his death beg the question that his date attempted to rob him and Cooke was shot while attempting to catch her and rerieve his property. In any case, it was a tragic loss for the muisc industry and black popular music.
Cooke was only 33 when he died, but this young man forever changed the face of American music. Musician. producer, civil rights activist;Salutations to his great musical ancestor.
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