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You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke…

You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke

by Daniel Wolff

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0688146201, Paperback)

Decades after his death, Sam Cooke's thrilling, seductive tenor remains one of the glories of American popular music. His compositions have inspired a multitude of covers, few of which manage to lay a finger on the original versions. And Cooke's vocal mannerisms--the melismatic swooping and yodeling he applied to key phrases--are still audible every time Aaron Neville opens his mouth (not to mention a host of other singers, from Rod Stewart to Aretha Franklin). Clearly, then, it was time for a full-dress biography, and Daniel Wolff has done a superlative job. He traces the singer's transformation from gospel prodigy, who hit the road with the Soul Stirrers at the tender age of 19, to secular star. Endlessly ambitious, Cooke never quite figured out how to juggle his sacred and profane instincts, and Wolff is particularly good on this balancing act, as well as on the racial politics of the music industry.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:36 -0400)

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In late 1957, when "You Send Me" burst upon the pop scene and shot to number one, it was seen as a phenomenal debut by a young unknown. But in African-American communities across the nation, Sam Cooke was already one of gospel music's most charismatic stars - and his crossover into rock 'n' roll heralded the beginning of a new era. The remarkable string of hits that followed - "Only Sixteen," "Chain Gang," "Cupid," "Twistin' the Night Away," "Bring It on Home to Me," "Havin' a Party," "Shake" - earned Cooke the title of The Man Who Invented Soul Music. At the same time, Cooke became one of the music business's first African-American entrepreneurs, fighting for the publishing rights to his songs and founding his own record label. Enmeshed in the beginnings of the civil rights movement, he crisscrossed the country insisting that rock 'n' roll be fully integrated. And he encouraged younger singers like Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson to follow his crossover example.Despite a near-fatal car accident and the tragic death of his infant son, Sam Cooke managed to forge a career that artists such as Rod Stewart, Keith Richards, and Aaron Neville still revere. Indeed, Sam Cooke was one of the first names inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Just as Cooke achieved a new level of success with sold-out appearances at New York's Copacabana, his life came to a sudden end: He was discovered half-naked in a seedy, south Los Angeles motel with a bullet through his heart. His was a murder that is still viewed by many as inexplicable - and unsolved.… (more)

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