A great vocalist and stylist, he moved black music into the mainstream and was also one of the earliest singer/songwriters working in the soul tradition - to that extent, he was a prime early mover in the Black artist's struggle to begin to control his own destiny.

Listen to the performance of his own 'A Change Is Gonna Come' and fail to be moved by it and it probably means you shouldn't really be reading anything about soul or blues music - you can't be interested!!

Although he died of gunshot wounds inflicted in a Los Angeles hotel; his reputation has continued to grow ever since and his importance and the sheer enjoyment of his music should not be underestimated.

Will a (cultural) Change Actually Come???
(Check Out Gerald Alston's New Music Video "A Change Is Gonna Come")

Check Out Gerald Alston's New Music Video A Change Is Gonna ComeAccording to the "experts", if the election were held today, Senator Obama would win. Many of those experts are suggesting that a "generational shift" is occurring. History has proven that when "generational shifts" occur, it means big changes for the culture.

If we accept those three things as a fact for just a moment...Lets play pretend...and ask ourselves the question, once the "newness" wears off...

What cultural changes would you predict are actually going to occur, if we were to look back at the past, 4 years from now?

--Music --Film --TV --Internet --Youth Culture --General Behavior & Attitudes

--Would the mere presence of Senator Obama in the White House cause these changes to occur? (or does he have to "do something specific" in order to kick start things, and what would that specific thing have to be?)

--Would the deepening financial crisis cause any potential cultural changes that might occur to not occur? (will people be too consumed with issues of financial survival and "having fun" will simply be pushed to the "back burner?")

--Or will there really be little "cultural change" at all, and we will look back 4 years from now and things will be relatively the "same" as they are today?

While you are pondering this, watch & listen to Gerald Alston's great new video of the classic "A Change Is Gonna Come", dedicated to Senator Obama!

(send me an email and let me know what's on your mind)

--Bob Davis

Listen To a Soul-Patrol.Net Radio Exclusive:
Gerald Alston Sings Sam Cooke: You Send Me, Sentimental Reasons, Only Sixteen, Wonderful World, Chain Gang, Cupid, Twistin'The Night Away,Bring It On Home To Me, Having A Party, A Change Is Gonna Come, Good Times,That's Where It's At, A Change Is Gonna Come - Live
Hosted by "nightrain"

Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective Some of the greatest advancements in modern music are credited to an artist who died over 40 years ago, yet only lived to be 33. Now his dynamic achievements are remembered in his most intimate biography to date, "Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective" (Trafford Publishing, $22.50,, written by his great-nephew Erik Greene.

After six years as the reigning voice in gospel music, Cooke burst onto the pop scene with the 1957 release of his million-selling single, You Send Me. The song's innovative blend of Gospel, Pop, and R&B earned him the title of "The Man Who Invented Soul" and stayed on the charts an amazing 26 weeks, rising to #1 in both the Pop and R&B markets. The next single he'd release, I'll Come Running Back to You, soared to #1 on the R&B charts as well. Cooke would eventually chart an amazing 34 Top 40 R&B hits over his eight year pop career, with most like You Send Me and I'll Come Running Back to You written by Sam himself. Cooke also wrote and recorded such classics as Chain Gang, Only Sixteen, Cupid, Wonderful World, Having a Party and A Change is Gonna Come, and was among the original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In addition to being an accomplished singer, songwriter and producer, Sam Cooke is remembered as the first artist to take a political stand and refuse to sing to segregated audiences. He also recognized the politics of the music industry early in life. At a time when record labels often left even the most talented and successful artist broke and penniless, Sam Cooke was one of the first artists, black or white, to buck the system and demand ownership of his career. He signed an unprecedented deal with RCA in 1960 after coming to the agreement they let him retain control of the copyrights to his music. Sam Cooke was one of the first artists to capitalize on the crossover appeal of popular music by intentionally recording songs that targeted both the black and white markets. He was the first African-American artist to own a record label, and he established his own management company and music publishing company as well. Even more remarkable, he did all of these things before his 34th birthday.

In "Our Uncle Sam", Greene not only emphasizes Sam Cooke's accomplishments in music history, but gives the reader an inside look on the childhood influences that drove him to excel. Sam adopted his winning attitude from his strict but loving father, the late Rev. Charles Cook, Sr., who taught his children to never give less than their best effort and stressed the importance of family unity. "My mother and father were both family oriented, and they instilled in us 'all for one and one for all'," Sam's youngest sister Agnes remembers. "We were a very tight, close-knit family. If you had a problem with one of us, you had a problem with all of us." The Sam Cooke saga is a remarkable one, and is best retold by his closest family members. "Our Uncle Sam" not only contains the intimate memories of his brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, children and stepson, it includes many never-before-seen photographs of the artist and his family.

"I have read Erik's book," long-time Sam Cooke fan Don Piper admits, "and I truly acknowledge him for his commitment to the project and the effort he took in putting it together. I am grateful to him for taking the time to share the stories and points of view of family members whose voices would otherwise be unheard."

"It's a First Class book," North Carolina's Lawrence Calvin comments. "It's a #1 seller! (I'm) positively proud of you, and Sam without question is proud of you!"

For over 40 years music fans around the world have waited over to hear the inside story. Now, their wait is over.

Erik Greene is the grandson of Sam's oldest sister, Mary. "Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective" can be ordered through or by calling (888) 232-4444 toll-free in the USA and Canada. Readers from the UK can use the website or ring 44 (0) 1865 722 113. Shipping is available worldwide.

Soul-Patrol Presents: Sam Cooke - "Live at the HarlemSquare" 1963

Richard Pryor LISTEN TO: Soul-Patrol Presents: Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963: Soul Twist/Introduction, Feel It, Chain Gang, Cupid, It's All Right/For Sentimental Reasons, Twistin The Night Away, Somebody Have Mercy, Bring It On Home To Me, Nothing Can Change This, Having A Party

and let us know what cha think???

This album is an absolutely essential CD for ALL Soul music fans to own!

It's the rich tapestry of the music, sound and persona of Mr. Sam Cooke, perhaps as you have never heard him before, if your only exposure to his music was his lengthy list of pop music hit recordings. Listening to this album will completely change your view of Sam Cooke forever. That's what happened to me the first time I heard it, back in the 1980's.

One of the very first CD's that I ever purchased, back in the mid 1980's when it came out was "Live at the Harlem Square". That CD had a profound influence on me! Growing up during the early and mid 1960's the music of Sam Cooke had always been around me. My grandmother had been a big fan of Sam Cooke's ever since his Gospel days and his music (both Gospel and Secular) was always being played in her house whenever I was there. However upon hearing the CD ""Live at the Harlem Square" in the 1980's, my impression of Sam Cooke was changed forever.

Michael Jackson is sometimes referred to as the "King Of Crossover", for his accomplishments during the 1980's. Without taking away from what MJ accomplished, I dare say that Sam Cooke had accomplished the very same feat, over twenty years before Michael Jackson did so.

One of the things that face all Black Americans are the issues surrounding the challenge of existing/prospering in an integrated society. For better or for worse, how we face these challenges on an individual level tend to define us. The way that most Black Americans face this is to quite literally develop multiple sets of personalities. In effect we tend to "act one way around other Blacks" and we tend to "act a different way around Whites". Doing so isn't really a matter of choice, it's really a matter of survival and keeping the two things in balance is not an easy thing to do. For Black Americans, one of the worst things that they could possibly be accused of is going too far over to the other side ("Uncle Tom"). On the other hand, a refusal to "assimilate" will be frowned upon by the larger society and most likely lead to economic disaster and worse (jail, police brutality, death). America demands that Black Americans in effect have multiple personalities in order to survive and that is a heavy burden for both Black & White Americans to carry.

- If you listen to the album "Live at the Harlem Square", what you get is a hard core "chitlin circuit" style performance that seems totally out of place for 1963. It's literally the merging of the "sacred" with the "secular". The songs are familiar, yet they are done with a power/groove that suggests and predicts the future style of someone like Al Green in the 1970's, more commonly known as "Southern Soul". In effect you get Sam Cooke "acting one way around Blacks".

- If you listen to the album "Sam Cooke at the Copa", what you get is the sound of a major pop music superstar giving a fantastic live performance of his familiar material in a mainstream setting. In effect you get Sam Cooke "acting a different way around Whites".

In my mind, these two albums serve in a way as bookends and as a perfect metaphor for the very same "assimilation challenge" that Black folks faced in 1963 and continue to face in 2005.

Sam Cooke was certainly faced with those challenges as an artist who wanted to be true to his roots, yet also wanted to be heard by as many people as possible. He was successful in accomplishing both, but it must have been a heavy burden to carry...


SOUL-PATROL.NET RADIO - LISTEN TO: SAM COOKE LIVE AT THE HARLEM SQUARE CLUB, 1963 (Soul-Patrol's Best CD release of 1999): Soul Twist/Introduction, Feel It, Chain Gang, Cupid, It's All Right/For Sentimental Reasons, Twistin The Night Away, Somebody Have Mercy, Bring It On Home To Me, Nothing Can Change This, Having A Party

and let us know what cha think???

--Bob Davis




  • "Were having a party...everybody swinging...dancin to the music....on the radio..." I bet you I know the words to almost every Sam Cooke Song out !!!! Seriously..Sam Cooke was indeed a legend and for some reason I feel he is overlooked a lot...
  • Trvia question for yall....Who sang background vocals on the song "Bring it on Home to Me" ???
  • If you ever..change your mind..about leavin..leavin me behind...oooooowont you bring it on home..bring your sweet lovin..bring it home to me..yeah ..yeah..

  • Sam Cooke was my fathers favorite singer...he used to sing.."summertime" to me every nite...hmmm, daddy really couldnt"a change gonna come" is one of the most moving and powerful songs ever written..didnt he die before the release of that one??.. "You Send Me" wasnt that his first hit after leaving gospel???

  • xBlackOrchid..."its been too hard living, but Im afraid to die, i dont know whats out there beyond the sky..its been a long time coming...but i know a changes gone come.....

  • Sounds like Sam Cooke's music had a big impact on your life,tell us more about how? How did the song "Change Is Gonna Come" impact you? What does it make you think of? I once read someplace that when Sam Cooke died that over 100,000 people showed up at his funeral in Chicago! That's amazing to me! Consider this, last year when Biggie Smalls died there was a huge amount of media coverage about both him and the circumstances surrounding his death. You would have thought that the President had died, based on the amount of media coverage. The day of Biggie's funeral I happened to be in Brooklyn. Although there was some media coverage of his funeral, nothing close to the number of people showed up for the funeral.

  • Sam Cooke had a huge influence not just on the music industry but on people.

  • It was what my daddy listened to and sang all over the place, I have the 45 of "a change is gonna come", when I listen to it..I kinda get the feeling of desperation folk felt during the civil rights movement, the words tell the story, but the music is very haunting which i guess has always stayed in my mind.,Its like hes so tired, tired of all the wrong, but he doesn’t want to die to make it better, which is kinda ironic, cause he did die before it got better..
  • I learned how to "swing"off "Having a party" would just throw me all over the place till i was old enough to Did you know that "Chain Gang" was about folks working on prison chain gangs in the south?? and the rhythm for that song is the sound of hammering as the laid rail roads etc..i thought that was interesting...but its always the song "Summertime" that brings back the fondest memories, that was my sleepy time song<s>..and I didnt realize till recently that was a song from "Porgy and Bess"..any Sam Cooke song reminds me of my father and he had a major influence on me

  • Summertime and the livin is easy, fish are jumping and the cotton is high, your daddys rich and your mommys good looking , hush little baby dont you cry...

  • ok..this is someone i know without the need for lyrics <G> mother was a HUGE sam cooke fan..she used to play all his records remember bein' little and she would dance around the house singing his songs..( that's where i get that from)..his music used to make my mom happy..those memories alone make him a-ok with me :>

  • To me Sam Cooke had a tremendous impact on both music and society and it seems to me that his contributions have gone unrecognized. He was one of the very first "crossover artists" in a modern sense and his early death left a void that was not filled. Sam Cooke would have had a tremendous influence much like that of Jimi Hendrix (another who died too young) had he lived because he had the capacity to bring the races together and move the whole discussion of race in this country to a higher level of discourse.
  • Sam Cooke was a "crossover superstar" of the highest proportions somewhat similar to Micheal Jackson or Prince during the 1980's. He had a whole string of MONSTER hit records that were number 1 sellers on BOTH the R&B and Pop charts. His "look" was "non threatening" and his sound was "sweet". He wasn't on Motown or Stax or some small Black label, he was on RCA records and was considered a major Pop star! Sam Cooke was accepted in white America much in the same way as Sidney Potier was during the same timeframe. he was one of the "good ones".
  • However unknown to most Americans, Sam Cooke was a Black nationalist from Chicago who was also a great friend of both Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. He had secretly converted to Islam and had become one of the first Black artists to start his own record label. He had artists such as Bobby Womack and Johnny Taylor on his roster.
  • Sam Cooke saw that a "change was coming" in the mid 1960's and he was prepared for it. In other words, Sam Cooke had his chit together on both sides of the coin in a way that we wouldn't see again till the FUNK era in the 70's

  • Now i would like to speculate just a bit about Sam Cooke and what might have happened if he had lived.....

    Otis Redding stated many times that he considered Sam Cooke to be his "role model". Some people thought this was crazy since Otis was a "raw" r&b singer and Sam was a "sweet" pop star.

  • Otis was right on the money.....if you get a chance pick up on the CD "Sam Cooke - Live At The Harlem Square". It's a live recording of Sam Cooke performing at a Black nightclub in the Miami ghetto. He sounds like a "raw" r&b singer (much like Otis). Seems that Sam Cooke was leading a "double life" something that is NOT uncommon for Black Americans who choose to "crossover" regardless of their occupation. See Sam didn't just "crossover", he also "crossed back" as well.

    In my opinion if Sam Cooke had lived we would have seen him perform at the Monterey Pop festival in 1967 and NOT Otis Redding. Sam would have ELECTRIFIED the "love crowd" (as Otis put it) whith his blend of soul + gospel + pop/rock (with a message!) and become seen a a leader of a whole musical/cultural movement that would have brought people closer together.

    Who knows, as a result of sharing the stage at Monterey he might have even hooked up with Jimi Hendrix a musician with a similar cultural appeal. Perhaps Sam Cooke's skills as a businessman could have saved Jimi? There is NO dobt in my mind that if Sam Cooke had lived into the 1970's he would have been among the founding fathers of FUNK music. What he was doing in the mid 1960's was about 10 years ahead of it's time musically, culturally politically and businesswise. It's a shame we never got to see what would have happened :(


  • >>Did you know that "Chain Gang" was about folks working on prison chain gangs in the south??<<

  • Good point!! …Sam Cooke had the ability to "get political" without "getting political". Think about it for a moment, he put that song out in the EARLY 1960's during a time when Black performers typically didn't make political statements. Yet Sam Cooke was able to do JUST that and still get a hit record out of it. Keep in mind that this was during the SAME timeframe that our friend Berry Gordy was running around saying that Motown couldn't put out any music that was political because it wouln't sell. Perhaps he should have taken a closer look at what Sam Cooke was doing at that time?


  • Lou Rawls, I think, sang counterpoint on "Bring It On Home".

  • I was beginning to wonder if anyone knew this answer !!! Yes It was Lou Rawls...hiding out just waitin for his chance to shine !!

  • Much has been made over the years about how the Beatles (minus Paul McCartney, at the time) and the Rolling Stones managed to renegotiate one-sided recording contracts with their respective labels by bringing in the industry's 800-lb gorilla, the formidable Allen Klein. It is mostly forgotten that Sam Cooke did it first. Before TCB was a catchphrase, Sam Cooke had made it a way of life....cgh

  • You are correct, Sam Cooke was one hell of a businessman. He really had it together as far as his carrer, something that was quite unusual at that time for a Black performer during a period of time where most were RIPPED OFF, even by Black owned companies like Motown. Some people have never accepted the story of his death. Some people think that he was killed because of his ability to control his career as opposed to letting his career be controlled. This was quite unusual at the time and perhaps somebody didn't want him going around setting that kind of an example for other artists. Sam Cooke was a pioneer in more ways than one and influenced many other artists. This was yet another thing that makes him a legend!

  • Sitting here singing a Change Is Gonna Come makes me think about myself and my current situation. It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die. It's been a long time a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come. Thanks for this topic. Made me think of this song and my life.

  • Made me realize a change is gonna come. Just be patient and leave it in the Man upstairs hands and that change that I need will come. Now I love myself some You Send Me. That song was remade some years ago by a group (if I remember correctly) called the Ponderosa Twins. It is my favorite. I have a tape of Sam Cooke songs I bout long time ago.


  • You have an excellent memory, the Ponderosa Twins did do a remake of "You Send Me. Their verson of it appears on the Black History Month Tape we gave away in trivia last year (which you won) LOL

  • OOOOOO YES !!! I like that version as well.. hmm tryin to think.. I know I have heard several other versions...

  • ....I have a sample EP from the SAR Story that came out in 1994. SAR Records is a division of ABKCO Records, 1700 Broadway, NY NY 10019. The promo cd has The Soul Stirrers, Sam, The Simms Twins, Johnie Morisette, and the Valentinos. Wasn't his murder unsolved? Makes you wonder doesn't it??


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