Über Sam Cooke
One of soul's most important voices and most tragic figures, Sam Cooke was one of the early soul singers to make the transition from gospel to the secular world of soul music. Cooke was the son of a Mississippi preacher, and he spent his youth in church choirs and gospel groups. He joined the Soul Stirrers in 1950 and recorded and toured with the gospel group for six years before making his first foray into secular pop. His first big hit was the perennial (and self-penned) hit "You Send Me" -- a pop confection that shimmered with sincerity and the hint of grit that surfaced more prominently as Cooke's artistry matured. If you don't know Sam Cooke, you probably know his music: "Bring It On Home To Me," "Another Saturday Night," "Chain Gang," and the prescient "A Change Is Gonna Come." As the hits piled up, Cooke was finding himself a major crossover success, with powerful fan bases across black and white audiences alike. In 1964, at the height of his career, Cooke was killed in circumstances that were never fully explained. Theories about why he was shot to death continue but Sam Cooke's artistry remains undisputed.