One of soul music’s primary architects, Sam Cooke is the honoree for the 10th annual American Music Masters series. Sam Cooke’s extraordinary voice and unforgettable melodies appealed to black and white audiences, and the popularity of his music helped introduce many other black performers to mainstream audiences. His music expanded from its gospel roots into more mainstream R&B and pop genres while managing to keep the interest of many among his core gospel following. Cooke was also a force in harnessing the power of music for a socially conscientious cause. He recognized both the growing popularity of the early folk-rock balladeers and the changing political climate in America, using his own popularity and marketing savvy to raise the conscience of his listeners with such classics as “Chain Gang” and “A Change is Gonna Come.” Tribute participants and performers include: Aretha Franklin, Elvis Costello, Solomon Burke, The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Peter Wolf, Taj Mahal, Otis Clay, The Manhattans, Gavin DeGraw, William Bell, Lou Rawls, Cissy Houston, Michelle Williams and Morgan Freeman.