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The Legendary Sam Cooke

(January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964)Sam Cooke: Gospel singer, R&B and a founder of soul Music, Sam Cooke influenced such artists as Michael Jackson, Oatis Redding, and Al Green.  He was musically prolific and impeccable having over 29 top 40 hits in his short lived career  Honor the first in our Black Music Legend Series    

Samuel “Sam” cooke (January 22, 1931-December 11, 1964
image source: new.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/celebrity/sam_cooke/index.html 
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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.

                                                            Soul Stirrers
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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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