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Lou Rawls was a singer and songwriter known for his baritone voice and the small acting roles he took on the side.
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Lou Rawls he released his first album in 1962, I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water. But it wasn’t until the 1966 hit single "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing" that he hit the top of the R&B charts and earned his first gold record. Rawls started incorporating spoken word segments to his songs, considered by some to a precursor to rap music. His award-winning career spanned 40 years and both music and acting.
"I began to learn acceptance, direction, understanding and perception—all elements that had been sadly lacking in my life,"
Singer, songwriter, actor, philanthropist. Born Louis Allen Rawls on December 1, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois. A gifted performer, Lou Rawls sold more than 40 million records during his long career as a Grammy Award-winning singer. Raised on Chicago’s South Side by his paternal grandmother, he began singing gospel music in his church's choir at the age of seven. Rawls later sang with local groups through which he met other future music stars Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield.
Moving to Los Angeles in the 1950s, Rawls first joined the Chosen Gospel Singers and recorded with them. He later became a member of the Pilgrim Travelers, which also included Cooke. In 1955, Rawls put music on hold to enlist in the U.S. Army.
For three years, Rawls served as a paratrooper. He left the service in 1958 and returned to the Pilgrim Travelers. By then, his friend Sam Cooke was a successful solo artist, but he was on tour with the Pilgrim Travelers that year. Rawls was traveling in a vehicle with Cooke when they were involved in a serious car accident. After being in a coma for several days, Rawls took many months to recover from the incident. Cooke's driver was killed in the crash and Cooke was also injured, getting a piece of glass in his eye. As a result of the tragedy, Rawls often said that he found a new direction in his life. "I began to learn acceptance, direction, understanding and perception — all elements that had been sadly lacking in my life," according to an article in Jet magazine.
Turning toward more secular music, Rawls was discovered by a producer while singing in a club in Los Angeles in 1959. He signed a deal with Capitol Records. Released in 1962, his first album, I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water (also known as Stormy Monday), had a jazz and blues feel to it. Accompanied by pianist Les McCann, Rawls sang a few cover songs, including Billie Holliday's "God Bless the Child" and Ma Rainey's "See See Rider" as well as a few tracks he wrote himself. But it was not until the 1966 hit single, "Love is a Hurtin' Thing" from the album Soulin' that Rawls started to attract more listeners. The track reached the top of the R&B charts. With this album, he earned his first gold record. Released that same year, Lou Rawls Live! (1966) also did well on the charts.
Around this time, Rawls started incorporating spoken word segments to his songs. These bits are considered by some to a precursor to rap music. According to Rawls's Website, these raps were born of necessity. He often worked in small clubs that had stages behind the bars.
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