Greatest Soul Singers, A Comparison

{Ed Note:  In another of our series on great soul vocalists, Reader DlphcOracl provides another excellent article below, giving those who are interested an enlightening and entertaining homework assignment!}

If you were to ask music aficionados who the greatest male soul singer of the twentieth century was, I suspect that three names would come up repeatedly: Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Al Green.  Unquestionably, Aretha Franklin would be named as the greatest female soul singer.  Although Sam Cooke probably had the best and purist voice of the three male vocalists, I believe Otis Redding sang with a depth of emotion that was unequalled.

Here is a homework assignment for you to form your own opinion. Sam Cooke’s most famous and important song was  A Change is Gonna Come, a reflection of his active participation in the American Civil Rights movement.  This song was subsequently covered by all of these great artists and all four versions have been uploaded on YouTube with superb sound.  Start by listening to Sam Cooke’s original version and then listen to each of the other great artists cover this important song in their own inimitable fashion, each imprinting the song with his/her own personal stamp.

Sam Cooke

Otis Redding 

Al Green 

Aretha Franklin

Conclude the session by listening to and watching the below version of A Change is Gonna Come.  With Sam Cooke singing the original version as background, this is a moving slideshow of vintage photographs tracing African-American history from the days of segregation in the Deep South, through the early days of the Civil Rights movement  culminating with the election of Barack Obama, something that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago.

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