One of soul music’s primary architects, Sam Cooke was the honoree for the 10th annual American Music Masters series. Sam Cooke’s extraordinary voice and unforgettable melodies appealed to black and white audiences, and the popularity of his music helped introduce many other black performers to mainstream audiences. His music expanded from its gospel roots into more mainstream R&B and pop genres while managing to keep the interest of many among his core gospel following. Cooke was also a force in harnessing the power of music for a socially conscientious cause. He recognized both the growing popularity of the early folk-rock balladeers and the changing political climate in America, using his own popularity and marketing savvy to raise the conscience of his listeners with such classics as “Chain Gang” and “A Change is Gonna Come.”
Events celebrating Sam Cooke's life and career included interviews, film screenings, Rockin' the Schools classes, a conference and performances.
Sunday, November 6
Saturday, November 5 at 8:00pm
On Saturday, November 5 from 9am until 5pm at the Ford Auditorium in the Allen Memorial Medical Library, scholars, artists, journalists and fans gathered at a conference to reflect on the career of Sam Cooke and his impact on rock and roll music. Participants included Sam's brother L.C. Cooke, Marvin Jones, Lee Richards and Creadell Copeland of the Highway QCs, Early Byrd, Gorgeous George, andGrady Gaines of the Upsetters, Peter Guralnick, LeRoy Crume of the Soul Stirrers and Ira Tucker of the Dixie Hummingbirds, William Bell and Otis Clay. Interviewers and moderators included Warren Zanes, Dred-Scott Keyes, and Joyce Jackson.
On Thursday, November 3 at the Harkness Chapel at Case Western Reserve University, Rock Hall staff (Howard Kramer and Warren Zanes), Case faculty (Mary Davis and Daniel Goldmark), and WCPN Ideastream reporter and producer David C. Barnett discussed Sam Cooke from every angle.
Distinguished Professor of Music Theory and African-American Music Horace Boyer at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst lead a gospel master class on Wednesday, November 2 on the musical career of Roy Orbison
In collaboration with Cleveland State University, the Rock Hall presented Nearer My God to Thee! A Tribute to Cleveland's Quartet Singers on Tuesday, November 1.
On Monday, October 31, the Rock Hall screened the Grammy-winning documentary, Sam Cooke: Legend.
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