- Photo by Marina Chavez
At age 69, Solomon Burke may be more popular today than he was in the mid-1960s, when his string of impassioned singles for Atlantic Records — highlighted by "Cry to Me," "Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)," "If You Need Me" and "Got to Get You Out of My Mind" — cut to the heart of incipient American soul music with elegant orchestral arrangements and country, pop and gospel influences. As with many early rhythm and blues singers, Burke found his voice at the pulpit, preaching in his family's Philadelphia congregation as a teenager. That range is the cornerstone of his billowing vocals, which can float by on a breeze, as on his first hit, "Just Out of Reach (of My Two Empty Arms)," or burst into flames a la Otis Redding, as they do repeatedly on the heartbroken anthem "Can't Nobody Love You." But, despite the parade of quality Atlantic sides and the unquestionable influence his music had on performers that followed, Burke never breached the Top 20 charts with any of his songs, and for decades his success was limited to classic-R&B aficionados and archivist circles. (Little-known factoid: Burke played the gangster/preacher Daddy Mention in the 1987 film The Big Easy.) It took a 2002 comeback, Don't Give Up on Me, to restore the King of Rock 'n' Soul to his rightful throne. On the Grammy-winning LP, Burke lends his bottomless tenor to cuts by Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello and Van Morrison, among others, and for the first time sustains the emotion of those early singles over the course of a full album. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's latest is Like a Fire (Shout! Factory), featuring guests Eric Clapton, Ben Harper and Keb' Mo'.
5:45 p.m. Thu., April 30
Congo Square Stage
Cry To Me (Single/LP Version) - Solomon Burke