Songs and Times of Sam Cooke

Forging a link between soul and pop, the music and unforgettable genius of legendary “King of Soul”, Sam Cooke will be performed live by Australian soul singer and performer, Gary Pinto and live band. Carly asked Gary some questions about Cooke's influence on his music, the inspiration behind the show and the importance of Cooke's story. Read more below: 

Gary Pinto 

Gary, when were you first exposed to Sam Cooke’s music and story and what impact or influence did that have on you as a musician and as a person?

I was first exposed to Sam Cooke and his music from as early as I can remember. My parents, both being musicians from India, brought my brother Bradford and I up on a steady diet of Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Al Green and the greats - all the good stuff. Having this infusion of different musicians and genres influenced my musical journey greatly in my chordal choices, melodic structures and lyrical content when writing and preforming songs.

What has inspired this particular concert? Why is this now the story you want to tell and what have you discovered in bringing this story and these songs to the stage?

It’s incredible that such a pivotal and instrumental singer has never had his songs or story told on a large stage anywhere in the world. When John Sinclair told me he was thinking of doing a show about Sam Cooke, I asked if I could send him a demo as he was a big influence on me. After sending the demo of, ‘You Send Me’, to John Sinclair, within 10 minutes he called and offered me the gig, which I was wrapped about! On a historical level, it would be difficult to find an artist who influenced more Soul and R&B singers and who paced the way for so many singers than the great Sam Cooke - and all before the age of 33.

Which of Cooke’s repertoire is your favourite to sing? And why?

‘All of My Life’, was the song I had chosen for my bridal waltz, 10 years before I met my wife. The beauty, simplicity and purity of the lyric and melody captured me from the first phrase, ‘All of My Life, all of my life, I’ve waited, waited, waited, waited for you...’ As a Catholic, I withheld dec for marriage and that song was perfectly fitting - having Guy Sebastian sing it for us was the icing on the cake! (Guy was in our bridal party)


Talk to us about performing with this band – what has the rehearsal process been like firstly in creating the show and then putting it together with the wonderful six-piece band?

‘The Champions of Soul’, headed by Kyrie Anderson as MD, is a beautiful combination of incredible musicians who are predominantly based in Adelaide and Melbourne. The feel of the band is reminiscent of the feel of Sam Cooke’s band on the, ‘Live At Harlem Square’, album and the tasteful playing, notably from guitarist Thomas Kneebone and Bass player Claire Cross is sublime. Acclaimed director, Greg Carrol has been putting the dialogue together and I am looking forward to working more closely with him throughout the rehearsals for the show which begins in just over a week.

Why do you feel that we need to hear Cooke’s story and what in 2019 can we continue to learn from him and his life?

Sam Cooke was so many things to so many people. Sam was a musician, an activist, a Son, a Voice for his people, an incredible songwriter and so much more. Sam was one of the first men to attain his rights to the masters of his recorded music - something unheard of in the 50s and still extremely rare today. His courage in standing up for himself as a musician and standing for his people during the times of segregation, most notably when he and Aretha Franklin refused to go on stage when the African American audience were not allowed to attend, stands today as a witness to a man’s strength and ability to speak for those without a voice. His story remains as relevant now as it was when he was alive because it shows that we are able to use our God given talents and abilities for freedom and liberation.



Favourite production you have ever seen?

Phantom of The Opera


You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?


Dream show/role to perform?

Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway

Plays or musicals?


What’s next for you after this show?

Record my next album 

For a night of music that you will love and a performance you won't want to miss, click here.

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