Video: Sam Cooke Live From the Harlem Square Club in Overtown
"Don't fight it, we gona feel it tonight, ya understand." And with these words Sam Cooke launched into "Feel It" on what would become his "Live At The Harlem Square Club, 1963" album, though it wasn't released until 1985, well after his death.
Jerry Wexler, the man who coined the term "Rhythm and Blues" and a partner in Atlantic Records, said of Cooke "The best singer who ever lived, no contest." High compliment from a guy who knew and worked with Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Led Zeppelin.
The Harlem Square Club in Overtown hosted two Sam Cooke shows that day, a matinee for the kids as a dry run, and a later show for the recording. The set featured grittier renditions of his tunes than white America was getting from his records. "Live At The Harlem Square," documents the evolution of his sound and greater acknowledgment of his gospel roots.
Cooke was shot dead by a female hotel manager in Los Angeles in 1964 at the age of 33. His Overtown record stands as testament to his great artistry and ability. Even the liner notes to the album won a Grammy. They were written by the great music historian Peter Guralnick who also, later, wrote a Cooke biography.
Miami and more specifically Overtown's musical history cannot be forgotten; it is integral to the development of American music.