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FMU Performing Arts Center to showcase tribute to Sam Cooke

Come enjoy a tribute to Sam Cooke, considered by many to be the "Man who invented soul," in a performance at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25 at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center.

THE COOKE BOOK: The Music of Sam Cooke is a celebration of his greatest hits and some lesser known gems. From his Gospel roots to pop sensations, Darrian Ford performs arrangements and classic vocal melodies that are expanded but kept stylistically true to the era. “You Send Me”, one of Cooke’s earliest secular hits, was the first of 29 “Top 40” hits by the Chicago-raised, singing son of a Baptist minister.

In addition to being a successful performer, Cooke established himself as a successful and groundbreaking black entrepreneur within the mainstream music industry. Cooke founded his own publishing company (Kags Music) and launched a record label (SAR/Derby). Tragically, Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel on December 11, 1964.  But his influence can be heard in every generation since.

The show is highlighted by Chicago native Darrian Ford who began his professional performing career at age 13. His career has since spanned Concert Dance companies of Alvin Ailey and Donald Byrd/The Group; Broadway credits include  State Fair, The Who’s Tommy and the first national tours of The Color Purple and Smokey Joe’s Café. On film he co-starred in "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" with Halle Berry, and had a recurring role on Disney's "That's So Raven". With nearly a dozen musical guest appearances on both day and night time TV talk shows, he can also be heard on Broadway colleague albums, musical concept albums, and his own CD "Everything".

In 2008, his original musical, THE COOKE BOOK/ The Music of Sam Cooke, was produced by North Carolina Theater to rave reviews. He continues to perform THE COOKE BOOK around the country dedicated to developing his show into the grand production, complete with orchestra, he envisions to be worthy of the Legendary Cooke, another Chicago hometown boy.

Appearing along with Ford are four other performers.

John “Chick” Cicora who is a multi-instrumental teacher, arranger and composer. He has worked closely with the music, visual arts, dance, and theater communities in Chicago for eight years. He got his Bachelors in Jazz Studies from Columbia College Chicago and since then he recorded two albums with Vanguard Records and signed a publishing deal with Warner Brothers Television. He found the Chicago artists collective The Inconvenience in 2009 and is a member of their music department. He has scored music for film, dance, theater, variety shows and more. In February 2012 he was the musical director and bass player for The Inconvenience’s world premier of Hit The Wall at the Steppenwolf Garage.

Ben “Benny” Joseph on piano is a promising young multi-instrumentalist based in Chicago. His work as a songwriter, arranger, and session musician has earned his group critical acclaim and caught the attention of notable Chicago players, such as Nicholas Tremulis and Rick Barnes. Joseph has toured this great nation with Ezra Furman, and has studied with luminaries Christian McBride and Peter Erskine. His third full-length album, Solace, was released earlier this year.

Alfonso “Spanky” Jones started playing drums at the age of 2 and has been spankin’ da drums ever since. He has played with world renowned artists like Martha Munizzi, Rance Allen, Danny Boy, Wynton Marsalis, Orbert Davis and Hamiette Bluette. He plays regularly with other artists around the Chicago and St. Loius Area like The Larry Brown Group and D.O.T. He currently plays with NEW SOUND as well as The Liberty Temple, both Chicago and Bolingbrook locations. Alfonzo is endorsed by Exodus World Class Cymbals. 

Anderson “Sunny” Edwards on Bass guitar has traveled worldwide and performed in clubs, concerts and festivals with a wide range of artists from Wynton Marsalis and Eldee Young to Otis Clay and Koko Taylor.  Over the years he has opened for acts such as Brandy, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Huey Lewis and the News and Buddy Guy. 

Tickets for this show start at $33 and may be purchased at, via telephone at (843) 661-4444, and at the FMU Performing Arts Center Box Office. Telephone and personal ticket sales are available Monday through Friday between 12-5 p.m. Subject to availability, tickets may be available for purchase at the door. 

The PAC is located in downtown Florence at the intersection of Dargan and Evans Streets.


Last Published: February 15, 2013 3:51 PM
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