Sam Cooke can still draw a crowd: Fans and family turn out for street named in singer’s honor

Sam Cooke can still draw a crowd: Fans and family turn out for street named in singer’s honor
Sam Cooke can still draw a crowd: Fans and family turn out for street named in singer’s honor

Sam Cooke can still draw a crowd: Fans and family turn out for street named in singer’s honor

Before a crowd of about 150 people, a section of east 36th Street in the Bronzeville neighborhood was honorarily renamed yesterday for the late soul singer Sam Cooke who grew up on the street—at corner of 36th and Ellis, actually---more than 70 years ago.

Having blogged about this Friday. I strapped on my camera and went to the ceremony to capture the mixture of Cooke’s devotees, family—and voices from Chicago’s 1960s soul era that Cooke influenced. Yes, this wanders far afield from architecture. Please indulge me…

The legendary radio DJ Herb Kent—“The Cool Gent”—was the emcee:

Cook County Commissioner Jerry Butler—whose beautiful baritone shared lead singing duties with Curtis Mayfield in the Impressions—was also on hand:

And this was cool: Herb Kent spied the crowd and picked out singer Ruby Andrews, whose 1967 record Casanova (Your Playing Days are Over) was a Number 9 hit on the R&B charts. Kent invited her up to sing a bit of the song:

And then Cliff Curry, an original member of the Chicago group, the Notations—their hit was 1971’s slow-burner I’m Still Here—took the stage to talk about Cooke’s legacy.

Sign of the time: Someone holds a camera and a hand-lettered placard honoring the day:

Sam Cooke’s great-nephew Erik Greene, who spearheaded the effort to rename the street in Cooke’s honor:

Cooke’s brothers L.C. and David also attended. L.C. was a great singer in his own right, as the beautiful, Sam Cooke-produced Put Me Down Easy (Sam sings background on it) shows:

As the crowd began to break up after the event, I spotted a woman holding a Wendell Phillips HS yearbook. She flipped it open…