Solomon Burke (March 21, 1940 – October 10, 2010), gospel and R&B singer.

Starting out as a preacher and radio host in Philadelphia, Burke was soon signed by Atlantic Records and became a successful soul artist. Over the course of his career, the “King of Rock & Soul” scored 34 top-selling singles, including “Cry to Me,” which hit the singles charts in the 60’s and again in the 80’s, due to its inclusion in the film “Dirty Dancing”. Some of his hit songs include Down in the Valley,” (covered by Otis Redding), and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” which was covered by the Rolling Stones, Wilson Picket, and the Blues Brothers (in their 1980 film).

Burke was friends with Martin Luther King, Jr. and sang at the Vatican’s 2000 Christmas celebration at the request of Pope John Paul II. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and won the Grammy for best Blues album in 2003. He also appeared in the 1987 film, The Big Easy, alongside Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, and Ned Beatty. In 2006, he released an album, Nashville, which featured Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Patty Griffin, which became a hit on the country charts. He died after a flight to Amsterdam, where he was scheduled to perform and celebrate his latest release, Hold On Tight, recorded with the Dutch band De Djik. In an interview, Burke, recalled the advice of his friend and collaborator Willie Mitchell shared during the making of his 2010 album “Nothing is Impossible”:

“Just because you’re 70 years old doesn’t mean that you can’t sing like you should sing or want to sing. Use what God gave you.”

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