Sam Cooke is widely regarded as the first and greatest soul singer, and as one of the most important figures in modern American music. His good looks, personal charisma and golden voice made him a superstar in the 1950s, winning him an unprecedented crossover appeal. Although he died in 1964 at the age of only 33, Cooke produced a remarkably accomplished body of work in his short life. At one point in his professional life, Sam Cooke had to make a decision. He could go on and make a "pop" career of it and perform along the lines of other successful pop singers - and probably wind up just fine. Or, he could be "true to himself" and start singing about what he - and his people - called "soul". It's abandoning the formalities of music and channeling the truth as the performer feels it. "Soul" then is just the natural emotional flow of the singer. That's the way this 1963 album was done and that's why it's called Mr. Soul. Here's Sam Cooke with complete freedom, complete encouragement. This is not, like most albums, a collection of hits done under formal circumstances. Here, for the first time on record, Sam Cooke became the truly great performer he really was destined to be - free, uninhibited, full of power and emotions - Mr. Soul.