Melbourne Arts Centre
Now, due to popular demand, Gary Pinto and his band, The Champions of Soul, are taking the Songs & Times Of Sam Cooke out for a special summer season, including residencies at the Sydney Opera House and the Melbourne Arts Centre, plus two special shows at the Canberra Theatre Centre and Geelong Performing Arts Centre. Gary will traverse the biggest hits of Sam Cooke’s career, embodying the spirit of the soulmaker’s acclaimed concert at the Harlem Square Club from 1963.
Considered one of the most influential songwriters of all time, Sam Cooke has an incredible legacy. His music still sells US$5 million a year, even more than five decades after his death. He has been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (1987) and the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame (1988), received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1994) and was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1999).
Gary Pinto is an ARIA-award winning and multi-platinum selling recording artist. Part of the wildly successful R&B group CDB in the 1990s, who were considered pioneers of R&B within Australia, he is revered by his peers. Internationally recognised, he has received nods of praise from the likes of Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder, and even performed at Stevie’s daughter’s 16th birthday party on invitation. He has penned songs for the likes of Jimmy Barnes, Guy Sebastian, Anthony Callea, Christine Anu and American soul singers Janiva Magness, with whom he co-wrote a song from the Grammy-nominated album Love Wins Again, and Taylor Dane to name a few. For the past six years he worked behind the scenes on X-Factor as the television series vocal director and is currently touring in Jimmy Barnes’ band.
Being asked to perform the music of Sam Cooke was something of a dream come true for Gary, who cites the legendary singer as one of his biggest influences as a singer and the ‘Godfather of Soul’. He says the experience of taking audiences on a journey through Sam Cooke’s collection was insightful. “Every night interpreting his songs was a different experience because the band would play differently, and I would sing differently, being in the moment of great soul music,” he says. “Singing the performing this kind of music is very much dependent on the atmosphere and every performance is varied. The music traverses age groups from young to old, because soul music is timeless.”
Sam Cooke has been described as ‘the best singer that ever lived’, by legendary soul producer Jerry Wexler and was regarded by soul diva Aretha Franklin as a ‘genius’. His powerful, yet understated voice saw him break race and religious barriers in the 1950s and 1960s and made him one of the best-known African Americans in the world in his time. His first solo hit – You Send Me – was #1 on the Billboard R&B charts for six-weeks. He had 29 Top 40 hits, such as Bring It On Home To Me, Chain Gang, Cupid, Another Saturday Night, Twistin’ The Night Away and Having A Party.
Sadly, the end of his life was sparked with drama. He apparently took to drinking to cope with the sadness in his life – the death of his first wife and subsequent death of his young son from his second marriage – and on the night of December 11, 1964 after a prostitute allegedly stole his clothes and money, he got in an argument with the motel manager who shot him four times. It was declared a justifiable homicide. There were always rumours that his death was the work of gangsters who had tried to move into his business enterprises and had been rebuffed, but nothing has been proven.
Songs & Times Of Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come will explore the interesting, uplifting and sad life of this legendary performer, and showcase the music that still lives on today.
For more information, please visit www.samcookesongsandtimes.com.au