Specialty Records president Art Rupe was, and is, an astute man. He arrived on the west coast with six hundred dollars and started a record company that truly made a difference in the history of popular music. He then parlayed that money into real estate and oil. His business sense was good, and his ear was almost infallible…but only almost. For all that he did right, Rupe made two mistakes. When Sam Cooke wanted to record what Rupe regarded as limp pop arrangements, Rupe cut him loose and watched a song recorded on his dime become one of the big hits of the rock ‘n’ roll era. Then, five years later, one of Rupe’s artists, Little Richard, toured Europe. The supporting acts included a young group that went over well, and Richard told Rupe about them. Rupe wasn’t interested. They, of course, were the Beatles. No one bats 1.000.
Was Sam Cooke the greatest R&B singer of all time? Few would dispute that. Was he the most influential? Undoubtedly. And although Cooke never lived to see the eruption of soul music, it was founded on reverence for him. Later, there were rock and even reggae singers who openly based their style upon his, and many others who absorbed his influence at several removes. Even Cooke’s trademark “whoa-oh-oh” has passed into the vernacular of popular music, although no one has quite managed to replicate it.
Sam Cooke could bear down on the hardest gospel song or glide effortlessly through a pop ballad. He could soar above a full orchestra or be almost embarrassingly intimate in front of a small group. He never seemed to overstretch or lose sight of his direction. He also wrote many of his own songs, produced many of his sessions, and later took control of the business of music. If he were alive today, he would only be in his seventies; as it is, he has been dead for more than forty years.
"I've seen musicians come along, " Cooke said later. "Some kid who has a good voice. He'll have a hit record and get all kinds of money offers, but suddenly the success vanishes and so does he. If he has what it takes, he'll work hard and pay his dues. A person who makes it to the top too fast can't get the fundamentals." Sam Cooke paid his dues and understood the business from all sides. He was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi on January 22, 1931, not 1935 as was often reported. In 1933, the family moved to the south side of Chicago, where his father became a preacher in the Church of Christ Holiness Church. Sam was one of seven children, and his father formed a group with four of them called simply the Singing Children. Just out of high school, Sam was recruited by a professional gospel group, the Highway QCs. In January 1951, he moved on to one of the most prestigious black gospel groups, the Soul Stirrers, replacing an idol, Rebert Harris.
Lot's of music
Within the "black" community uses b flat and b flat minor. I will probably get villified for saying that but after playing out with a friend of mine(keys) that had a strict background of gospel/blues/soul....most of the songs he brought to the table were Eb and Bb maj/min. Sam cooke, Al Green that stuff. We played local piano bars and such, catered to a specific crowd but I did learn a lot from the "brother".