Solomon Burke | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Solomon Burke's magnificent voice and cathartic stage presence made him a gospel-music phenomenon early on. Billed as "the Wonder Boy Preacher" at the age of nine, he crossed over into secular music in the mid-50s and really hit his stride when he signed with Atlantic Records in late 1960. Among the classic soul singers Burke's vocal prowess is unmatched. He modulates effortlessly from a tender whisper to a deep-throated baritone and up into an air-shattering scream that combines a gospel preacher's intensity with the rich timbre and tonal control of a saxophone, fusing riveting intimacy with exuberant communal celebration. But it's Burke's fervor that sets him apart: he melds the spiritual exultation of his gospel roots with the unabashed sensuality of secular soul--a seamless, transcendent blend. His litany of hits reads like a textbook on soul and R & B excellence, but even his unsurpassed Atlantic recordings of the early 60s barely do him justice: his live performances can elevate you to places you've never been, and you may resonate from the effects for weeks afterward. Also on the bill: Bobby "Blue" Bland. Saturday, East of the Ryan, 914 E. 79th; 874-1500.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment