We didn’t know what to expect when we asked our employees to share their favorite black artists in honor of Black History Month. Appropriately enough, their responses were as diverse as our team. So far, we’ve profiled The Weeknd and Darius Rucker as well as Bob Marley and Blood Orange. This week features another mix of Old School and New School that we hope is educational for older patients who may have never heard of The Weeknd or Blood Orange and younger patients who may have never heard of Darius Rucker or Bob Marley.
Had he not been tragically killed in 1964 at just 33 years of age, Sam Cooke might be every bit as famous as James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Beloved by music lovers for his smooth voice and pleasing mix of party hits, love songs, and soulful ballads, Sam Cooke was one of the first Black rock and roll superstars.
If you’re over age fifty, you’ve undoubtedly heard “Twistin’ the Night Away” at a party, or you remember its appearance in the classic movie, Animal House, along with another Sam Cooke Smash:
Sam Cooke also hit it big with this catchy song that provided American teenagers with an alternative to doo-wop music and Elvis Presley. The iconic sound of Cupid’s arrow being “fired” was Cooke’s idea. The result was an altogether different sound/concept for 1961 that laid the foundation for bands like The Four Tops, The Supremes, and even The Beatles to follow.
Finally, Valentine’s Day may be done for another year but the wooing is an essential part of a healthy relationship all year-round. Set the mood for your next romantic dinner at home with this track that’s been bringing lovers closer for six decades.
Whether you’re feeling nostalgic or wishing that there was a modern artist with Sam Cooke’s vocal style and versatility, allow us to introduce you to our next nominee.
From the moment he released his debut album Coming Home in 2015, Leon Bridges has drawn comparisons to Sam Cooke in every way – how he looks, how he dresses, and how he sounds. If Bridges is at all uncomfortable with being likened to such an iconic singer, he shoulders some of the blame with the spectacular covers he did before he broke out:
Of course, Leon Bridges is way more than a Sam Cooke disciple or wannabe. Yes, the vocal comparisons are undeniable, but Bridges’ songwriting talent and vocal range are legit. It takes a special song to make it into an iPhone commercial, and the title track of Coming Home qualifies on all counts.
Raised by deeply religious parents, Bridges gospel upbringing shines on his debut album’s final track, “River.” Intensely soulful and inspired by his struggles with anxiety and depression, “River” sounds like a Spiritual song from the 1800’s and is a soothing, hypnotizing alternative to hip hop or R&B. That’s especially true of the live version below.
Bridges’ second album, Good Thing, contained his biggest hit to date and is also the favorite song of the Rev Clinics’ employee who nominated him. The gentle, pleading song “Beyond” captures all the emotions of young love. Its sweet lyrics and romantic chorus make it another excellent choice for your “Romantic Dinner at Home” playlist, no matter how old you are.
We hope you enjoyed Week 3 of Rev’s celebration of Black History Month and the artists who have impacted our employees’ lives. It’s been an educational experience for all of us. And really, isn’t that what Black History Month is all about?