A contemplative prayer from the "King of Soul"
This is one of the best vocals that Sam Cooke ever laid down. This short two-and-a-half minute song is a contemplation on the afterlife, sung with the quiet reverence of a prayer. The accompaniment, just a piano and some “ooo”s from the Soul Stirrers, is gentle and sweet, with an end-of-the-day feel. The tempo is moderate for such a short song, as if to say, “Any day now I’m coming to heaven … but I’ll take my time getting there.”
Sam Cooke was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1931. His father was a Baptist minister who moved his wife and eight children to Chicago in 1933. It was there that Sam would develop his voice, eventually joining a youth musical group called the Teen Highway QCs. His exposure in this group led him to join the Soul Stirrers, of whom he became the front man.
Sam’s father was always supportive of him, once saying, “It isn’t what you sing that is so important, but rather the fact that God gave you a good voice to use. He must want you to make people happy by singing, so go ahead and do so.”
Sam’s velvety voice helped guide Gospel music into the mainstream. Indeed, the Soul Stirrers grew so popular that Sam was able to break out into pop music. Even as he left the Gospel genre, he maintained that Gospel feel in many of his pop songs, which gave rise to Soul music.
Sam Cooke is often called the “King of Soul,” as his music laid the groundwork for the genre in the mainstream. His infectious songs like “Another Saturday Night” and “Twisting the Night Away” were huge pop hits, which excellently utilized Sam’s voice behind big bands.
His contribution to Soul music was more than just as a musician. After several bad deals from record companies, during a time when black artists were often devalued in the music industry, Cooke started his own music production company, in which he played a huge part in both management and production. With his own people around him and no big-shot record labels telling him what kind of music to make, Cooke was able to further advance Soul music.