BIRMINGHAM, AL - The Sam Cooke Tribute Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the life, legacy and music of the late gospel and soul singer, Sam Cooke, plans to honor the legendary singer during the weekend of what would have been his 80th birthday in Los Angeles the weekend of January 20-23, 2011.
Event organizer, Richard Nichols, a relative of the Sam Cooke's late brother in law, Joe Hoskins, says this tribute will honor the legendary soul singer in a befitting birthday celebration with fans from around the world. "The legion of new Sam Cooke fans continues to grow worldwide and as one who was directly involved in the previous Sam Cooke Tribute in Los Angeles in 2005, I think this is the perfect opportunity for old and new Sam Cooke fans to come together to celebrate the life, legacy and music of Sam Cooke," Nichols said.
Cooke was killed December 11, 1964 in Los Angeles, CA under still mysterious circumstances according to Reginald McDaniel, first President of the Sam Cooke Tribute Foundation, Inc. Sam Cooke was at the pinnacle of his career when his life unexpectedly ended on that December night. "Many circumstances surrounding his death remain cloudy and many of his contemporaries, family and fans believe foul play was involved," McDaniel said. "Cooke was a music industry pioneer in many ways and way ahead of his time. Sam Cooke had the audacity to tell the music industry that he would write, produce and control his own music and career. He encouraged other artists of his time to do the same."
Sam Cooke signed an unprecedented deal with RCA in 1960 that essentially turned RCA into a distributor for Cooke's Tracey Records. This allowed him to become the second leading seller on RCA behind only Elvis Presley. Cooke also founded his own record labels, SAR and Derby, and his own publishing company, KAGS. "No other black artist had such power," McDaniel said.
Sam Cooke was also the biggest gospel star of his time as a member of the legendary and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group, the Soul Stirrers, for whom he sang lead with from 1950 to 1956. He recorded such hits as Touch the Hem of His Garment, Be With Me Jesus, Jesus Be a Fence, Farther Along, That's Heaven To Meand Wonderful, with the Soul Stirrers before deciding to crossover to pop music in 1956.
Cooke exploded onto the pop/soul music scene in 1957 with his number one hit and two-million seller, You Send Me. Cooke had 29 top forty hits over the seven-year period of his career. They include such classics as: Cupid, Chain Gang, Another Saturday Night, Bring It On Home To Me, Nothing Can Change This Love, Wonderful World, Having a Party, and his epitaph, A Change Gonna Come which was instrumentally used by President Barack Obama during his rise to the White House.
The story of Sam Cooke is very complicated. He was much more than a singer. He was a soul music pioneer, business entrepreneur, and civil rights activist during a very turbulent time. "We the fans, want to keep his legacy alive and get the truth out about how truly great Sam Cooke was and still is," Nicholsl said.
Music channel, VH1, ran a Legends special on the life and career of Cooke which won a Grammy Award earlier this year as best long-form music video. Cooke was named one of the top 15 artists of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine this year, and his song A Change Gonna Come was credited by Rolling Stone as the greatest R& record of all time.
Although it's been over 45 years since Cooke's untimely death, his influence is still strong today as many artists from R. Kelley to Rod Stewart emulate Cooke's unique vocal style and phrasing.
The Sam Cooke Birthday Tribute 2011 is scheduled in Los Angeles, CA, January 20-23, 2011 at the Marriott Hotel LAX. Fans will enjoy a weekend of activities including a tour of Sam Cooke's home, burial site and performances by the Legendary Soul Stirrers, Bobby Womack, Gerald Alston and more, according to Nichols. The tribute has traditionally drawn thousands of fans from the United States and around the world including, Canada, Bahamas, Scotland, England, Hungary and Germany.
The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles will officially open a display room honoring Sam Cooke on January 21st when the mayor of Los Angeles will proclaim Sam Cooke Day. The Greek Theatre will hold a press conference to announce the first annual Sam Cooke Concert on May 19, 2011. Los Angeles Unified School District will also be at the press conference to announce the naming of a school in Sam Cooke honor.