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Though he only lived to be 33 (he was murdered in suspicious circumstances), the man born Samuel Cook left an indelible mark on the world of gospel and soul. So profound was his influence that he was bestowed with the honorific title of King Of Soul. A pioneer in black music for sure, Sam Cooke, as he was professionally known, paved the way for the boom in 60s R&B. Most biographers have pointed out that Cooke’s sublime styling, his smooth and creamy tenor with accompanying high and low ranges, paved the way for confident soul artists the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding, but then he was just as revered by Aretha Franklin and Curtis Mayfield, with their differing palettes, and can also be seen (or heard) as a keystone for Rod Stewart and Art Garfunkel. The important thing was that Cooke sang directly from the soul but never lost the power that came from his gospel upbringing. When all the ingredients fall into place, as they do on the civil-rights epic ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ or the effervescent ‘Bring It on Home to Me’, resistance is futile. But there was also great sensuality at play in a classic like ‘You Send Me’. Given the unfortunate set of events that led to Sam’s death in the most disagreeable manner – the actual identity of the assailant who shot him dead in a Los Angeles motel has never been proven, and accounts of Cooke’s demise vary so wildly as to beggar belief – all we can truly say is that he was taken far too early, and at a time when soul music was moving towards new progressive areas, something that Cooke would presumably have enjoyed and mastered. All the conspiracy theories can’t alter his talent or diminish his status. He was posthumously honoured in many ways with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, following an earlier induction into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame (Cooke was a prolific songwriter), as well as taking a place in the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, as recently as 2013.
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uDiscover Music transparent Essential Albums
Sam Cooke at the Copa

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Ain't That Good News

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Night Beat

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My Kind of Blues

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Swing Low

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