Chicago Lauds One of Its Greatest Musicians

June 19, 2011

The city got a new street name and a legend received a fitting tribute this weekend.

Chicago has honored soul singer Sam Cooke by renaming a street after him near the homes where he grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the city’s South Side.

“Sam Cooke Way” now resides on 36th Street, near the musician’s two Chicago homes, at 3527 S. Cottage Grove and 724 E. 36th Street.

Cooke was born in Mississippi in 1931 but moved as a child with his family to Chicago, attending Doolittle Elementary School and Wendell Phillips High School, neither far from Sam Cooke Way.

One of the original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cooke is considered to be one of the founders of soul music. He had 34 Top 40 R&B hits in his short career, including “Wonderful World” and “Twistin’ The Night Away.”

His song, “A Change if Gonna Come,” was paraphrased by President Barack Obama the night he won the election.

Some musicians that credit Cooke for paving the way for their careers include Marvin Gay, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

Sam Cooke

Cooke created a record label and was one of the first African American musicians to tend to the business side of his career. He was also active in the civil rights movement.

In 1964, under questionable circumstances, Cooke was shot in a Los Angeles motel by a female manager. She said he attacked her, claimed self-defense and got off.

Sam Cooke, the “King of Soul,” died at the age of 33.

Cook County commissioner and soul musician Jerry Butler declared June 18 at “Sam Cooke Day.”

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a very deserving musician for a tribute!

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