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Lou Rawls

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Chicago, Illinois, USA (1951 – 2006)

Louis Allen “Lou” Rawls (born in Chicago, Illinois, USA on 1 December 1933 – 6 January 2006) was an American soul music, jazz, and blues singer. He was known for his smooth vocal style: Frank Sinatra once said that Rawls had “the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game”.Rawls released more than 70 albums, sold more than 40 million records, appeared as an actor in motion pictures and on television, and voiced-over many cartoons. He had been called “The Funkiest Man Alive”.

Lou Rawls, who learned of gospel music through his grandmother in Chicago, became a successful singer, primarily from the 1950s through the 1980s. He was a high school classmate of music giant Sam Cooke, and they sang together in the Teenage Kings of Harmony, a ’50s gospel group.

After graduating from Chicago’s Dunbar Vocational High School, he sang briefly with Cooke in the Teenage Kings of Harmony, a local gospel group, and then with the Holy Wonders. In 1951, Rawls replaced Cooke in the Highway QC’s after Cooke departed to join The Soul Stirrers in Los Angeles. Rawls was soon recruited by the Chosen Gospel Singers and himself moved to Los Angeles, where he subsequently joined the Pilgrim Travelers

After graduating from Chicago’s Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, Rawls enlisted in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. He left the “All-Americans” three years later as a sergeant, and hooked up with The Pilgrim Travelers as he traveled to Los Angeles. In 1958, while touring the South with the Travelers and Sam Cooke, Rawls was in a serious car crash.

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