Saturday, January 22, 2011

From Bass Baritone to the King of Soul

On January 22 in Black History...William Warfield and Sam Cook 

In 1920, William Warfield, concert bass-baritone singer, was born.  Warfield had a long career as an operatic baritone, and eventually became one of the world leading experts on Negro Spirituals and German Lieder.  He was also President of the National Association of Negro Musicians (1985-1990)

"William Warfield was know for specializing in educating the emotions of his audience, not playing "upon" or "to" their emotions. "

Warfield and his success story continues to inspire young singers around the world, especially African American classical singers. The William Warfield Scholarship Fund continues to support young minority singers at the Eastman School of Music. To date the fund has awarded scholarships to over 50 students.

In 1931, Sam Cook was born.  Cook was an American gospel, R&B, soul, and pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He is considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. He is commonly known as The King of Soul for his unmatched vocal abilities and impact and influence on the modern world of music. His contribution in pioneering Soul music led to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and popularizing the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown.

Cooke began his career singing gospel with his siblings in a group called The Singing Children. He first became known as lead singer with the Highway QC's as a teenager. In 1950, Cooke replaced gospel tenor R.H. Harris as lead singer of the landmark gospel group The Soul Stirrers. Under Cooke's leadership, the group signed with Specialty Records and recorded the hits "Peace in the Valley", "How Far Am I From Canaan?", "Jesus Paid the Debt", and "One More River", among many other gospel songs.

His first pop single, "Lovable" (1956), was released under thealias"Dale Cooke" in order not to alienate his gospel fan base (he sang with the Soul Stirrers until 1957); there was a considerable stigma against gospel singers performing secular music. However, it fooled no one - Cooke's unique and distinctive vocals were easily recognized  Like most R&B artists of his time, Cooke focused on singles; in all he had twenty-nine top-40 hits on the pop charts, and more on the R&B charts. In spite of this, he released a well received blues-inflected LP in 1963, Night Beat, and his most critically acclaimed studio album Ain't That Good News, which featured five singles, in 1964.,
See this video of Sam Cooke recording with Mohammad Ali: 

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