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Shelved for over 20 years, Sam Cooke's Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963, stands alongside Otis Redding's Live in Europe and James Brown's Live at the Apollo as one of the finest live soul albums ever made. It also reveals a musical, spiritual, emotional, and social journey played out over one night on the stage of a sweaty Miami club, as Cooke made music that encapsulated everything he had ever cut, channeling forces that would soon birth "A Change is Gonna Come," the most important soul song ever written.
This book covers Cooke's days with the Soul Stirrers, the gospel unit that was inventing a strand of soul in the 1950s, and continues on to his string of hit singles as a solo artist that reveal far more about this complex man and the complex music he was always fashioning. A writer and an agent of social change, he absorbed the teachings of Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan while reconciling his own identity and what fans expected of him. Fleming explores how this towering soul artist came to reconcile so many disparate elements on a Florida stage on a winter night in 1963-a stage that extended well into the future, beyond Cooke's own life, beyond the 1960s, and into a perpetual here-and-now. Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 will resonate so long as we all have need to look into ourselves and square our differences and become more human, and more connected with others in our humanity.