In 1958, when Sam Cooke crossed over from gospel to popular music, he ran the risk of alienating his gospel fans by embracing "the devil's music." Instead, he set in motion a chain of events that altered the course of popular music and race relations in America.
This episode of "American Masters" is about Sam Cooke. It consists of archival photos and film of him as well as interviews with various family members, friends and folks in the music business. It's well made and it's obvious as you watch that Sam Cooke was an amazingly talented singer--there's no doubt about that. However, despite his strong gospel singing background, he was a rather messed up man--leading, in some ways, a double-life. So, while singing some marvelous gospel tunes and pop songs that have become timeless, his own life was often a depressing mess. Some of it was caused by Cooke himself--some of it happened to people around him. Regardless, while the show celebrates his music, it also can't help but depress the heck out of the viewer as well! In addition, his bizarre and confusing death is STILL very bizarre and confusing even after watching "American Masters"--as it does nothing to shed light on exactly what occurred. Because of these two factors in the show, the viewer will likely be left feeling a bit confused about the man--I sure know I felt this way. A great singer and a very enigmatic guy.
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