Music

Solomon Burke

Born 21 March 1940. Died 10 October 2010.
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Solomon Burke on The Apollo Theatre

Little Richard waxes lyrical about the electric atmosphere at The Apollo Theatre and modestly describes himself as a very hard act to follow. From the 1985 Arena documentary The Apollo Story (Part Two).

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Biography

Solomon Burke (March 21, 1940 – October 10, 2010) was an American recording artist and vocalist, who shaped the sound of rhythm and blues as one of the founding fathers of soul music in the 1960s and a "key transitional figure in the development of soul music from rhythm and blues. He had a string of hits including "Cry to Me", "If You Need Me", "Got to Get You Off My Mind", "Down in the Valley" and "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love". Burke was referred to as "King Solomon", the "King of Rock 'n' Soul", "Bishop of Soul" and the "Muhammad Ali of soul". Due to his minimal chart success in comparison to other soul music greats such as James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, Burke has been described as the genre's "most unfairly overlooked singer" of its golden age. Atlantic Records executive Jerry Wexler referred to Burke as "the greatest male soul singer of all time".

Burke's most famous recordings, which spanned five years in the early 1960s, bridged the gap between mainstream R&B and grittier R&B. Burke was "a singer whose smooth, powerful articulation and mingling of sacred and profane themes helped define soul music in the early 1960s." He drew from his roots – gospel, jazz, country and blues – as well as developing his own style at a time when R&B, and rock were both still in their infancy. Described as both "Rabelaisian" and also as a "spiritual enigma," "perhaps more than any other artist, the ample figure of Solomon Burke symbolized the ways that spirituality and commerce, ecstasy and entertainment, sex and salvation, individualism and brotherhood, could blend in the world of 1960s soul music."

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BBC Reviews

  1. Review of Nothing’s Impossible

    Nothing’s Impossible 2010

    Reviewed by Daryl Easlea
    Solomon’s fine, sometimes flawed, farewell to Willie Mitchell.
  2. Review of Make Do With What You Want

    Make Do With What You Want 2005

    Reviewed by Martin Longley
    When he's singing, he's a young man once more, still The King of Rock 'n 'Soul.
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