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The Measure of Sam Cooke's 'Triumph'

Born in Mississippi, Sam Cooke's family moved to Chicago in 1933.
Born in Mississippi, Sam Cooke's family moved to Chicago in 1933.

Biographer Peter Guralnick's new book is Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke. Guralnick follows the life of rhythm and blues legend Sam Cooke from his roots in gospel music through his legendary career as a singer and songwriter whose hits include "You Send Me," "Bring it on Home to Me," "Only Sixteen" and many others.

Guralnick has written extensively about American music. His other work includes a two-part biography on Elvis Presley as well as a trilogy on American roots music.

This week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is celebrating the legacy of Sam Cooke with panels, films, a daylong conference and two tribute concerts featuring Aretha Franklin and Elvis Costello.

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Combine an intelligent interviewer with a roster of guests that, according to the Chicago Tribune, would be prized by any talk-show host, and you're bound to get an interesting conversation. Fresh Air interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by the unique approach of host and executive producer Terry Gross. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," says the San Francisco Chronicle.