Samuel Cook (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964), known professionally as Sam Cooke, was an American singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He was also influential as a composer and producer and is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocals and significance in popular music.
Cooke was born in Mississippi and moved to Chicago with his family at an early age. He began singing as a child and joined the Soul Stirrers before going solo and scoring a string of hit songs including “You Send Me”, “A Change Is Gonna Come”, “Cupid”, “Wonderful World”, “Chain Gang”, “Twistin’ the Night Away”, and “Bring It On Home to Me”. In 1964, Cooke was shot and killed by the manager of a motel in Los Angeles. After an inquest and investigation, the courts ruled Cooke’s death to be a justifiable homicide; his family has since questioned the circumstances of his death.
Cooke’s pioneering contributions to soul music contributed to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Billy Preston, and popularized the work of Otis Redding and James Brown. AllMusic biographer Bruce Eder wrote that Cooke was “the inventor of soul music”, and possessed “an incredible natural singing voice and a smooth, effortless delivery that has never been surpassed”.From Wikipedia