Oprah isn't the only legendary performer getting a street named after her this season. One of the most influential musicians in American history -- and one of the sweetest voices ever recorded, to boot -- is getting his due on a segment of 36th Street.
Sam Cooke, the King of Soul (sorry, James Brown fans) is getting honored by the city Saturday at 2 p.m., according to the Anti Music blog. Alderman Will Burns (4th Ward) and Pat Dowell (3rd) will be on hand, as will some members of the Cooke family, the legendary Bronzeville radio personality Herb Kent and a number of other neighborhood leaders.
The soul group The Notations will perform a tribute to Cooke at the event, which is being run by Chicago Blues Museum founder Gregg Parker, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Though he was born in Mississippi, Cooke moved to Chicago at a young age, attending Doolittle Elementary School and Phillips High School in the Bronzeville neighborhood, not far from where the sign will be installed. In the year 1950, the 19-year-old Cooke joined the veteran Soul Stirrers gospel group as their lead singer, and catapulted them to enormous success. He crossed over to the pop world in 1956, and his first release on Keen Records, "You Send Me" (watch below) topped the R&B and pop charts.
He had continued commercial success throughout his career, and was an early musician to be active in the civil rights movement; his proto-protest song "A Change Is Gonna Come" has reached through history, from being played at Malcolm X's funeral to paraphrased at Barack Obama's victory speech.
Cooke was killed at a motel in Los Angeles in 1964, by the manager of the establishment. She successfully claimed self-defense, saying that Cooke attacked her while looking for his female companion.
As an additional plaudit for Cooke, Cook County Commissioner Jerry "Iceman" Butler, a soul singer himself who was inspired by Cooke, is proclaiming June 18 to be "Sam Cooke Day."