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Rawls, Lou

Lou Rawls

Rhythm and blues singer

For the Record

Noteworthy Priorities

Selected discography

Sources

Lou Rawls is a rhythm and blues (R & B) singer with extraordinary career longevity and great generosity. His soulful singing career spans over 30 years, and his philanthropy includes helping to raise over 150 million dollars for The College Fund/United Negro College Fund (UNCF). His lengthy singing career began ironically after his life nearly ended in 1958 in a car accident.

Rawls was born on December 1, 1936 in Chicago, home to many great blues musicians. Son of a Baptist minister, he was raised on the South Side of Chicago where he started singing in church at age seven. In the mid-1950s, he toured with his gospel group, The Pilgrim Travelers, until he joined the United States Army in 1956. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina for two years. When he returned from military service, he toured again in 1958 with The Pilgrim Travelers. One rainy night the group was on their way to one of their concerts when they were in a car wreck. They collided with an 18-wheeler. Rawls was initially pronounced dead; Eddie Cunningham was killed; Cliff White broke his collarbone; Sam Cooke was hardly injured. Rawls wasnt dead, but lay in a coma for five days before waking and eventually recovering from the severe concussion.

In 1959, The Pilgrim Travelers broke up, and Rawls embarked on a solo career. The Pilgrim Travelers were based in Los Angeles, so Rawls stayed there after the breakup and toured the nightclubs and coffee shops. His location helped him earn a small acting role in the television series 77 Sunset Strip. Rawls big break came when he sang in a coffee shop called Pandoras Box. A producer from Capitol Records, Nick Benet, was in the coffee shop. To Rawls surprise and delight, Benet asked him to record an audition tape. Capitol eventually signed Rawls to a contract in 1962. That same year, Rawls recorded a duet with Sam Cooke called Bring It on Home to Me, now considered a classic. Sam Cooke moved on to a very successful singing and songwriting career before his untimely death at the age of 33.

Rawls first recordings were fairly successful. His first album was Stormy Monday. His 1963 album, Black and Blue, made the pop chart, but it wasnt until the 1966 album, Lou Rawls Live, that he crossed over to major market success. Lou Rawls Live was his first gold album. In 1966 the song Love lsa HurtinThingwentto number 13 on the pop charts, and hit number one on the R & B charts. Finally, Rawls was reaching white audiences with his smooth baritone. During the mid-1960s, Rawls liked to mix his songs with spoken monologues. In 1967 one of those songs, Dead End Street, was number 29 on the pop charts and number three on the R & B charts. Dead End Street earned him his first

For the Record

Born Louis Allen Rawls, December 1, 1936, in Chicago, IL; son of Virgil (a Baptist minister) and Evelyn (a homemaker) Rawls; married Lana Jean, 1962 (marriage ended, 1972); children: Louanna, Lou Jr.; Military service: United States Army, 1956-1958.

Started singing gospel music in church at age seven; member of the gospel group Pilgrim Travelers, mid-1950s; near fatal car wreck on way to Pilgrim Travelers concert, 1958; solo career as rhythm and blues singer started 1959; toured Los Angeles nightclubs until signed by Capitol, 1962; first album Stormy Monday, 1962; major market success began with first gold album Lou Rawls Live, 1966; starred in numerous television variety shows and Las Vegas shows, 1960s and 1970s; national spokesperson for Budweiser, 1976; honorary chairman for The College Fund/United Negro College Fund (UNCF), 1980; began hosting the Parade of Stars televised telethon for The College Fund/UNCF, 1980; still tours and records; acted in several films 1969-1995.

Awards: Three Grammy Awards for Dead End Street, 1967, A Natural Man, 1971, and Unmistakably Lou, 1977; one Platinum and four Gold albums; American Music Award for Youll Never Find Another Love Like Mine, 1976; street named after him in Chicago, 1987.

Addresses: Record company Philadelphia International Records care CBS Records, Inc, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019.

Grammy Award. In the mid and late 1960s, Rawls guest-starred on many television variety shows and played the Las Vegas nightclub scene. In 1969 he even appeared in a movie, Angel Angel Down We Go.

In 1970 Rawls recorded a single called Your Good Thing Is About to Come to an End, a title that contradicted the success he experienced in the Seventies. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award. Rawls changed record companies in 1971, signing with MGM Records. A Natural Man was the first album he recorded with MGM. His first single A Natural Man earned Rawls a second Grammy Award in 1972. The song reached number 17 on the pop and R & B charts. Rawls released only one more album with MGM before signing with Philadelphia International records.

The signing with Philadelphia International was memorable because it paired Rawls with legendary producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. His first album with Gamble and Huff was his only platinum album: All Things in Times It reached number 3 on the R & B charts. Rawls most notable single was the first single recorded with Gamble and Huff in 1976 called Youll Never Find Another Love Like Mine. It reached number two on the pop charts and number one on the R & B charts, and was played in virtually every disco across the country. The song was Rawls first gold single and it won him an American Music Award and a Grammy nomination. Groovy People was the next single recorded with Gamble and Huff; it also earned a Grammy nomination. Other singles released with Gamble and Huff include: See You When I Git There, Lady Love, and Let Me Be Good to You.

In 1977 Rawls won his third Grammy Award. This time it was for the best male rhythm and blues performance for the album Unmistakably Lou. Rawls was seen on television often in the 1970s on variety shows and as an actor. Rawls also represented Budweiser as a national spokesperson in the late 1970s. His voice was heard in the background of many Budweiser commercials. One of Rawls album titles, When Youve Heard Lou, Youve Heard It All, was based on the famous Budweiser slogan.

Rawls last notable single was I Wish You Belonged to Me, which reached number 28 on the R & B chart and was also produced by Gamble & Huff. At Last, recorded in 1989, earned a Grammy nomination and included many guest stars. James T. Jones of Down Beat suggested the title was appropriate and added, Rawls returns to singing blues and supper-club jazz within the same acoustic setting of his 62 debut Stormy Monday. On that album, Rawls included some Lyle Lovett tunes. He told Down Beat, I like his songs. They have a lighttouch; theyre not so heavy. Hes a country singer. But when I get through with his tunes, theyre hardly country. When Portrait of the Blues was released in 1993, Phyl Garland of Stereo Review commented on Rawls, Central to his longevity have been the undeniable appeal of his deep baritone voice and his craftsmanship as a singer. Underscoring the accomplishment of his longevity, Garland also remarked, In a pop world where the duration of fame seems to have been cut back from 15 to 10 minutes, Lou Rawls has maintained his popularity over more than thirty years.

Noteworthy Priorities

Rawls still tours and records, and has appeared in many television shows and films, including the 1995 Mike Figgis film Leaving Las Vegas. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, however, he mainly established himself as a generous humanitarian. He put his money where his mouth is when he was quoted as saying, Educating the youth of our nation is priority one. Through his efforts as honorary chairman, he has raised over 150 million dollars for The College Fund/UNCF as their honorary chairman. He has accomplished this by hosting a televised telethon every January called the Parade of Stars. Since 1980 Rawls has invited fellow performers to appear live on the show to raise money for this important fund. Guests have included: Marilyn McGoo, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Patti LaBelle, Luther Vandross, Peabo Bryson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Take 6, Jody Watley, Tevin Campbell, Anita Baker, Boyz II Men, MeShell NdegeOcello, Eddie Murphy, and Whoopi Goldberg. Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. is the founding sponsor of the telethon. Rawls is adamant in his opinion about the role of education in guiding todays youth. He told Jet, If you look around you, you see the adults constantly pointing the finger at the kids, saying, Youre doing wrong. But do you give them an option? I think the option should be education. Our future depends on it, man.

In 1989 Rawls hometown of Chicago named a street after him. South Wentworth Avenue was renamed Lou Rawls Drive. In 1993 Rawls attended ceremonies for the ground breaking of the Lou Rawls Theater and Cultural Center. His cultural center includes a library, two cinemas, a restaurant, a 1500-seat theater, and a roller skating rink. The center is built on the original site of the Regal Theater on the south side of Chicago. The gospel and blues music played at the Regal Theater in the 1950s inspired a young Lou Rawls. Now his name is immortalized at the site of where it all began.

Selected discography

Stormy Monday, Blue Note, 1962.

Black and Blue, Capitol, 1963.

Tobacco Road, Capitol, 1963.

For You My Love, Capitol, 1964.

Lou Rawls and Strings, Capitol, 1965.

Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!, Capitol, 1965.

Nobody but Lou, Capitol, 1965.

Lou Rawls Live, Capitol, 1966.

Lou Rawls Soulin, Capitol, 1966.

Lou Rawls Carryin On, Capitol, 1966.

Soul Stirring Gospel Sounds of the Sixties, Capitol, 1966.

Thats Lou, Capitol, 1967.

Too Much, Capitol, 1967.

Youre Good for Me, Capitol, 1968.

Feelin Good, Capitol, 1968.

Best from Lou Rawls, Capitol, 1968.

The Way It Was/The Way It Is, Capitol, 1969.

Your Good Thing, Capitol, 1969.

A Natural Man, MGM, 1971.

Silk and Soul, MGM, 1972.

All Things in Time (includes Youll Never Find Another Love Like Mine and Groovy People), Philadelphia International, 1976.

Philly Years, Philadelphia International, 1976.

Unmistakably Lou (includes See You When I Git There and Lady Love), Philadelphia International, 1977.

When You Hear Lou, Youve Heard It All, Philadelphia International, 1977.

Lou Rawls Live, Philadelphia International, 1978.

Let Me Be Good to You, Philadelphia International, 1979.

Sit Down and Talk to Me, Philadelphia International, 1980.

Shades of Blue, Philadelphia International, 1981.

When the Night Comes, Epic, 1983.

At Last, Blue Note, 1989.

Greatest Hits, Curb, 1990.

Its Supposed to Be Fun, Blue Note, 1990.

Portrait of the Blues, Manhattan, 1993.

Christmas is the Time, Manhattan, 1993.

Sources

Books

Hawkins, Walter L., editor, African American Biographies-Profiles of 558 Current Men and Women, McFarland and Company, Inc., 1992.

Patricia Romanowski, editor, The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Fireside, 1995.

Periodicals

DownBeat, January, 1990.

Jet, June 26, 1989; August 30, 1993; January 9, 1995; January 13, 1997.

Stereo Review, July, 1993.

Additional information provided by the website All-Music Guide: A Complete Online Database of Recorded Music by Matrix Software, copyright 1991-97.

Christine Morrison

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Rawls, Lou

Lou Rawls

Singer

Lou Rawls was a rhythm-and-blues (R&B) singer with a career marked by extraordinary longevity and great generosity. His soulful singing career spanned more than 40 years, and his philanthropy helped raise over $200 million for the College Fund/United Negro College Fund (UNCF). His early roots were in gospel music, but his secular singing career began, ironically, after his life nearly ended in 1958 in a car accident.

Rawls was born on December 1, 1933, in Chicago, home to many great blues musicians. The son of a Baptist minister, he was raised on the city's South Side, where he started singing in church at age seven. In the mid-1950s he toured with his gospel group, the Pilgrim Travelers, until he joined the U.S. Army in 1956. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for two years. When he returned from military service, he toured again in 1958 with the Pilgrim Travelers. One rainy night, on the way to one of their concerts, they were in a car wreck, colliding with an 18-wheeler. Rawls was initially pronounced dead; Eddie Cunningham was killed; Cliff White broke his collarbone; Sam Cooke was hardly injured. Rawls lay in a coma for five days before waking and eventually recovering from the severe concussion.

On His Own

In 1959 the Pilgrim Travelers broke up, and Rawls embarked on a solo career. The Pilgrim Travelers were based in Los Angeles, so Rawls stayed there after the breakup and toured small nightclubs and coffee shops. His location helped him earn a small acting role in the television series 77 Sunset Strip. Rawls's big break came when he performed in a coffee shop called Pandora's Box. A producer from Capitol Records, Nick Benet, was in the coffee shop. To Rawls's surprise and delight, Benet asked him to record an audition tape. Capitol eventually signed Rawls to a contract in 1962. That same year, Rawls recorded the prominent background vocals for Sam Cooke's called "Bring It on Home to Me," now considered a classic.

Rawls's first recordings were fairly successful. His first album was Stormy Monday. His 1963 album Black and Blue made the pop charts, but it wasn't until the 1966 album Lou Rawls Live that he crossed over to major market success; Lou Rawls Live became the first of several gold or platinum albums for Rawls. In 1966 the song "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing" went to number 13 on the pop charts and hit number one on the R&B charts. Rawls began reaching white audiences with his smooth baritone, opening for the Beatles at their Crosley Field concert in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1966. During the mid-1960s, Rawls liked to mix his songs with spoken monologues (perhaps derived from the spoken routines in his increasingly successful nightclub act). In 1967 one of those songs, "Dead End Street," reached number 29 on the pop charts and number 3 on the R&B charts. "Dead End Street" earned Rawls his first Grammy Award. In the mid and late 1960s, Rawls guest-starred on many television variety shows and played the Las Vegas nightclub scene. In 1969 he even appeared in a movie, Angel Angel Down We Go.

In 1970 Rawls recorded a single called "Your Good Thing Is About to Come to an End," a title that belied the success he experienced in the 1970s. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award. Rawls changed record companies in 1971, signing with MGM Records and recording A Natural Man, which earned Rawls a second Grammy Award in 1972. The song reached number 17 on the pop and R&B charts. Rawls released only one more album with MGM before signing with Philadelphia International records.

The signing with Philadelphia International was memorable because it paired Rawls with legendary producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. His first album with Gamble and Huff, All Things in Time, went platinum, with sales of over one million copies, and reached number three on the R&B charts. Rawls's most notable single was the first one he recorded with Gamble and Huff in 1976, called "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine." It reached number two on the pop charts and number one on the R&B charts, and was played in numerous discos across the United States. The song was Rawls's first gold single, and it won him an American Music Award and a Grammy nomination. "Groovy People," the next single recorded with Gamble and Huff, also earned a Grammy nomination. Other singles released with Gamble and Huff included "See You When I Git There," "Lady Love," and "Let Me Be Good to You."

A Notable Career

In 1977 Rawls won his third Grammy Award. This time it was for Best Male Rhythm and Blues Performance, for the album Unmistakably Lou. Rawls was seen on television often in the 1970s on variety shows and as an actor, and he also represented Budweiser as a national spokesperson in the late 1970s.

Rawls's last notable single was "I Wish You Belonged to Me," which reached number 28 on the R&B chart. At Last, recorded in 1989, earned a Grammy nomination and included a variety of guest stars. When Portrait of the Blues was released in 1993, Phyl Garland of Stereo Review commented that "Central to [Rawls's] longevity have been the undeniable appeal of his deep baritone voice and his craftsmanship as a singer." Underscoring the singer's accomplishments, Garland also remarked, "In a pop world where the duration of fame seems to have been cut back from 15 to 10 minutes, Lou Rawls has maintained his popularity over more than thirty years."

For the Record …

Born Louis Allen Rawls, December 1, 1933, in Chicago, IL; son of Virgil (a Baptist minister) and Evelyn (a homemaker) Rawls; married Lana Jean, 1962 (marriage ended, 1972); married Nina Malek Inman, a flight attendant, 2004; children: Louanna, Lou Jr., Aiden.

Started singing gospel music in church at age seven; member of the gospel group Pilgrim Travelers, mid-1950s; solo career as rhythm and blues singer started, 1959; toured Los Angeles nightclubs until signed by Capitol, 1962; first album, Stormy Monday, released 1962; major market success began with first gold album Lou Rawls Live, 1966; starred in numerous television variety shows and Las Vegas shows, 1960s and 1970s; appeared in several films and in animated cartoons (including Garfield television specials), 1969–early 2000s; honorary chairman, College Fund/United Negro College Fund (UNCF), 1980; began hosting "Parade of Stars" televised telethon for The College Fund/UNCF, 1980; recorded for Epic, 1982–86; recorded At Last album for Blue Note, 1989; released gospel albums I'm Blessed (2001) and Oh Happy Day (2002); released Rawls Sings Sinatra on Savoy Jazz, 2003.

Awards: Grammy Awards, for "Dead End Street," 1967, A Natural Man, 1971, and Unmistakably Lou, 1977; American Music Award for "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," 1976; street named after Rawls in Chicago, 1987.

Addresses: Website—Lou Rawls Official Website: http://www.lourawls.com.

Rawls continued to tour and record, and he appeared in many television shows and films, including the grim Leaving Las Vegas (1995). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, however, he mainly established himself as a generous humanitarian. Through his efforts as honorary chairman, he raised over $200 million for The College Fund/UNCF. He accomplished this by hosting a telethon every January called the "Parade of Stars." Beginning in 1980, fellow performers appeared live on the show to raise money for the fund. These included: Marilyn McCoo, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Patti La-Belle, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Boyz II Men, and many others. Rawls was adamant in his opinion about the role of education in guiding today's youth. He told Jet, "If you look around you, you see the adults constantly pointing the finger at the kids, saying, 'You're doing wrong.' But do you give them an option? I think the option should be education. Our future depends on it, man."

In 1989 Rawls's hometown of Chicago changed the name of South Wentworth Avenue, renaming it Lou Rawls Drive in his honor. In 1993 Rawls attended ceremonies for the groundbreaking of the Lou Rawls Theater and Cultural Center, which was to include a library, two cinemas, a restaurant, a 1,500-seat theater, and a roller skating rink. The center was built on the original site of the Regal Theater on the south side of Chicago, where the gospel and blues music played there in the 1950s had inspired a young Lou Rawls.

Reaching an age when he could have relaxed and accepted such awards, Rawls continued to release new music, often returning to the gospel and jazz sounds with which he had begun his career. His I'm Blessed and Oh Happy Day albums of 2003 were gospel releases. In 2003 Rawls also released Rawls Sings Sinatra, with arrangements by veteran jazz composed Benny Gholson. In January of 2004, Rawls married flight attendant Nina Malek Inman. A year later the couple had a son, Aiden; Rawls had two other children from earlier marriages. Soon, however, Rawls, a former smoker, began to suffer symptoms of lung cancer that eventually spread to his brain.

Though gravely ill, Rawls delivered an electrifying performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before game two of baseball's 2005 World Series in Chicago. He died in Los Angeles on January 6, 2006. The Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered the eulogy, telling the mourners (according to Jet) that Rawls "wasn't able to go to college, but he sent thousands." And Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke declared, "People talked about his magnificent voice, but he had a magnificent soul."

Selected discography

Stormy Monday, Blue Note, 1962.
Black and Blue, Capitol, 1963.
Tobacco Road, Capitol, 1963.
For You My Love, Capitol, 1964.
Lou Rawls and Strings, Capitol, 1965.
Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!, Capitol, 1965.
Nobody but Lou, Capitol, 1965.
Lou Rawls Live, Capitol, 1966.
Lou Rawls Soulin', Capitol, 1966.
Lou Rawls Carryin' On, Capitol, 1966.
Soul Stirring Gospel Sounds of the Sixties, Capitol, 1966.
That's Lou, Capitol, 1967.
Too Much, Capitol, 1967.
You're Good for Me, Capitol, 1968.
Feelin' Good, Capitol, 1968.
Best from Lou Rawls, Capitol, 1968.
The Way It Was/The Way It Is, Capitol, 1969.
Your Good Thing, Capitol, 1969.
A Natural Man, MGM, 1971.
Silk and Soul, MGM, 1972.
All Things in Time, Philadelphia International, 1976.
Philly Years, Philadelphia International, 1976.
Unmistakably Lou, Philadelphia International, 1977.
When You Hear Lou, You've Heard It All, Philadelphia International, 1977.
Lou Rawls Live, Philadelphia International, 1978.
Let Me Be Good to You, Philadelphia International, 1979.
Sit Down and Talk to Me, Philadelphia International, 1980.
Shades of Blue, Philadelphia International, 1981.
When the Night Comes, Epic, 1983.
At Last, Blue Note, 1989.
Greatest Hits, Curb, 1990.
It's Supposed to Be Fun, Blue Note, 1990.
Portrait of the Blues, Manhattan, 1993.
Christmas is the Time, Manhattan, 1993.
Seasons 4 U, Rawls & Brokaw, 1998.
Anthology, Capitol, 2000.
I'm Blessed, Malaco, 2001.
Oh Happy Day, 601, 2002.
Finest Collection, EMI, 2003.
Rawls Sings Sinatra, Savoy Jazz, 2003.
Love Songs, Right Stuff, 2005.
Best of Lou Rawls: The Capitol Jazz & Blues Sessions, Blue Note, 2006.
Very Best of Lou Rawls: You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine, Capitol, 2006.

Sources

Books

Hawkins, Walter L., editor, African American Biographies: Profiles of 558 Current Men and Women, McFarland and Company, Inc., 1992.

Romanowski, Patricia, editor, The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Fireside, 1995.

Periodicals

Down Beat, January, 1990.

Jet, June 26, 1989; August 30, 1993; January 9, 1995; January 13, 1997; January 12, 2004; January 9, 2006; January 20, 2006.

People, January 23, 2006.

Stereo Review, July 1993.

Online

"Biography," Lou Rawls Official Website, http://www.lourawls.com (November 22, 2006).

"Lou Rawls," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 22, 2006).

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"Rawls, Lou." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Rawls, Lou

Lou Rawls

1936–2006

Singer, humanitarian

Upon his death from cancer in 2006, Lou Rawls was remembered by a star-studded list of celebrities not only for his memorable singing career—Rawls issued more than 60 albums over the course of his 40-year career, and he won three Grammy Awards—but also for his lengthy career as a humanitarian. Explaining his musical durability to the American Business Review in 1997, Rawls explained: "I didn't try to change every time the music changed. I just stayed in that pocket where I was 'cause it was comfortable and the people liked it." The same could be said for his humanitarian efforts, because for more than 25 years Rawls hosted the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) annual telethon, earning that charity more than $200 million. Over the course of time Rawls became something of an American institution, instantly recognizable by his comfortable crooner's baritone voice and several of his trademark tunes, including "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," "Lady Love," and "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing."

Despite his claims to music stability, Rawls' early years were marked by sometimes dramatic changes in style. Rawls had been by turns streetwise and sophisticated. Beginning his career, as did so many other African American singers, in the gospel field, he was groomed as a pop/jazz singer after signing with the Capitol label in the early 1960s. He first found mass success with a series of rootsy, heavily blues-tinged monologue-song combinations recorded later in that decade. In the 1970s his career was reborn in the area of middle-of-the-road black pop that sometimes pointed in the direction of disco. Although he was never identified with the cutting edge of black music, he nevertheless resisted recording-company efforts to push his style in a certain direction, insisting on his own instincts regarding his musical development. In so doing, he created a body of music that reflected the experiences of a wide cross-section of African Americans and Americans of other backgrounds.

Rooted in Gospel

Louis Allen Rawls was born on December 1, 1936, in Chicago. He was raised largely by his grandmother, both his parents having left the household during Rawls's childhood. Rawls grew up on Chicago's south side, at a time when the area was in the process of ascending to its place at the top of the blues world. Rawls's south-side neighborhood was a hotbed of musical talent, eventually producing such successful acts as Curtis Mayfield, the Dells, and Sam Cooke. He saw concerts by such acts as Arthur Prysock and the legendary Louis Armstrong at the south side's Regal Theater, but Rawls's instincts were more rooted in Gospel music, having sung in his grandmother's Baptist church choir from the age of seven.

After singing with gospel groups as a teenager, Rawls joined with Cooke and two other vocalists to form the Pilgrim Travelers. After completing a stint in the U.S. Army, Rawls toured extensively with the Pilgrim Travelers, but in 1958 the group's car collided with a truck. While Cooke escaped with minor injuries, Rawls was near death on the way to the hospital, remained in a coma for most of the next week, and suffered memory loss lasting a year. The terrible accident proved to be a life-changing experience for the singer. "I had plenty of time to think," he later told the Arizona Republic. "I didn't want to just go someday; I really wanted to do something good, to make a mark."

Rawls began making appearances wherever he could build his skills—on the blues-oriented "chitlin' circuit" and in small clubs and coffeehouses around Los Angeles. His finances were strained, but he did land a small part in the 77 Sunset Strip television series. While performing at a Hollywood club called Pandora's Box, located close to the headquarters of Capitol Records, Rawls was spotted by a Capitol producer and signed to the label in 1962. Another success that year was singing backup vocal to Cooke on Cooke's hit "Bring It on Home to Me." That classic recording harkened back to the days when Cooke and Rawls had sung gospel music together.

Rawls's first big success came when he began to introduce blues stage devices, such as monologues about poverty, into his music. A 1964 recording of the powerful country classic "Tobacco Road" gained some notice, and the song remained a fixture of Rawls's live shows for years afterward. The 1966 LP Lou Rawls Live effectively showcased the monologue technique and gave Rawls his first gold record. From then until his departure from Capitol in 1971, Rawls's recordings were reliably successful; he recorded a total of 28 albums for the label during this period.

Rawls moved briefly to the MGM label in 1971, and quickly notched one of the biggest hits of his career with "Natural Man," originally the B-side of another song released as a single. But the singer clashed with MGM executives over the lightweight musical fare that they wanted him to record and he soon left the label, signing briefly with the independent Bell Records, where he collaborated with the songwriting pair of Darryl Hall and John Oates. In 1975 Rawls found success when he embarked on a collaboration with another hit-making pair, the Philadelphia producers and songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Signing with the duo's Philadelphia International label, he released such singles as "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," which became a million-seller in 1976 and garnered substantial play in the dance clubs that incubated the emerging style known as disco.

Seventies Hits Launch Humanitarian Career

With this music Rawls found himself a long way from his chitlin'-circuit roots. The style pioneered by Gamble and Huff was heavily produced, aimed at sharp-dressed urban crowds. Yet Rawls adapted seamlessly and showed staying power in his new incarnation as a hit-maker. The 1977 LP Undeniably Lou won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance, and Rawls continued to record for Philadelphia International well into the 1980s.

Rawls parlayed his celebrity into a lucrative position as advertising spokesman for the giant Anheuser-Busch brewery, makers of Budweiser beer. In 1979 the brewery backed the singer in what would became the most recognizable and important activity of his later career: his establishment and nurturing of the annual Parade of Stars telethon, conducted for the benefit of the United Negro College Fund.

At a Glance …

Born Louis Allen Rawls, December 1, 1936, in 'Chicago; died January 6, 2006, of cancer; son of Virgil (a Baptist minister) and Evelyn Rawls; raised mostly by grandmother Eliza Rawls; married to wife Lana Jean, 1961 (divorced, 1973); married Ceci, 1989 (divorced, 2003); married Nina Inman, 2004; children: Louanna, Kendra Smith, Lou Jr., and Aiden Allen. Religion: Baptist. Military service: U.S. Army, 1956–58.

Career: Vocalist, mid-1950s-2006. Sang gospel music in church from age of seven; joined gospel group Pilgrim Travelers (other members included Sam Cooke), mid-1950s; signed by Capitol Records, 1962; signed by Philadelphia International label, 1975; launched United Negro College Fund "Parade of Stars" television fundraiser, 1979.

Awards: Grammy awards for single "Dead End Street," 1967; LP A Natural Man, 1971; LP Unmistakably Lou, 1977.

Rawls served for 26 years the host of the television program, which varied between three and seven hours in length and which has showcased leading performers in a variety of musical styles. In 2004, the United Negro College Fund honored Rawls's longstanding connection to the charity by holding a 25th anniversary tribute to him featuring performances by Stevie Wonder, Yolanda Adams, Ashanti, Beyonce, and many others. At that time, it was estimated that Rawls had helped raise over $200 million for the charity. The money benefited a group of small, historically black colleges and universities, all of which opened their doors to students of limited economic means. Tens of thousands of African American students quite simply owed their college educations to Lou Rawls.

By the 1990s Rawls was an institution. He kept busy over the years giving live musical performances, and he also appeared in several television programs and movies, including the 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas. Yet he never lost his commitment to the UNCF, and his work on the telethon continued to consume much of his energy. As he told the Arizona Republic, "It is, by far, my proudest achievement."

Rawls died on January 6, 2006, from complications from lung and liver cancer. Aretha Franklin remember Rawls fondly in Jet: "Lou was a great guy—with a great sense of humor. He was a man's man. A dear and old treasured friend who made a serious impact in the interest of historically Black colleges and Black folks. We should always remember and salute Lou Rawls. He will be missed." Rawls's longtime commitment to the United Negro College Fund was commemorated beginning in 2006 by the creation of the Lou Rawls Lifetime Achievement Award, given each year to a popular artist "whose career reflects the quality of commitment to UNCF and its mission that was Rawls' hallmark." His will be big shoes to fill.

Selected discography

Tobacco Road, Capitol, 1963.
Lou Rawls Live, Capitol, 1966.
Best from Lou Rawls, Capitol, 1968.
A Natural Man, MGM, 1971.
All Things in Time, Philadelphia International, 1976.
Unmistakably Lou, Philadelphia International, 1977.
When the Night Comes, Epic, 1983.
It's Supposed to Be Fun, Blue Note, 1990.
Portrait of the Blues, Manhattan, 1993.
Christmas Is the Time, Manhattan, 1993.
Ballads, Capitol, 1997 (reissue).
Love Is a Hurtin' Thing, Capitol, 1997 (reissue).
Rawls Sings Sinatra, Savoy Jazz, 2003.
Lou Rawls: Love Songs, The Right Stuff/EMI, 2005.

Sources

Books

Stambler, Irwin, The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul, rev. ed., St. Martin's, 1989.

Larkin, Colin, editor, The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness, 1992.

Romanowski, Patricia, editor, The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Fireside, 1995.

Contemporary Musicians, Vol. 19, Gale, 1997.

Periodicals

American Business Review, July 12, 1997, p. 5.

Arizona Republic, April 25, 1997, p. D13.

Ebony, October 1978, p. 112; March 2006, p. 178.

Jet, November 17, 1997, p. 64; January 12, 2004, p. 105; January 9, 2006, p. 53.

New York Times, January 6, 2006.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 3, 1997, p. E4.

Stereo Review, July 1993, p. 91.

USA Today, October 16, 1997, p. D4; January 18, 1998, p. D3.

Variety, January 16, 2006, p. 47.

On-line

In Memoriam: Lou Rawls, www.lourawls.com (July 10, 2006).

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"Rawls, Lou." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Rawls, Lou." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rawls-lou-1

"Rawls, Lou." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rawls-lou-1

Rawls, Lou 1936–

Lou Rawls 1936

Vocalist

Began Career in Gospel Music

Successful LPS on Capitol

Founded Parade of Stars Telethon

Selected discography

Sources

Asked in 1997 by the American Business Review to account for his show-business durability, Lou Rawls answered this way: I didnt try to change every time the music changed. I just stayed in that pocket where I was cause it was comfortable and the people liked it. Certainly Rawls has become something of an American institution. With a performing career spanning five decades, a long stint as host of the Parade of Stars television fundraiser, and a comfortable crooners baritone, Rawls has been one of those rare entertainers seemingly accorded a permanent place on the American musical scene. As of the late 1990s, his body of recorded music was sixty albums strong.

Yet in the years when Rawls first made his formidable reputation, he did it in large part by changing his style and changing it dramatically. Rawls has been by turns streetwise and sophisticated. Beginning his career, as did so many other African American singers, in the gospel field, he was groomed as a pop/jazz singer after signing with the Capitol label in the early 1960s. He first found mass success with a series of rootsy, heavily blues-tinged monologue-song combinations recorded later in that decade. In the 1970s his career was reborn in the area of middle-of-the-road black pop that sometimes pointed in the direction of disco. Although he was never identified with the cutting edge of black music, he nevertheless resisted recording-company efforts to push his style in a certain direction, insisting on his own instincts regarding his musical development. In so doing, he created a body of music that reflected the experiences of a wide cross-section of both African Americans and Americans of other backgrounds.

Began Career in Gospel Music

Louis Allen Rawls was born on December 1, 1936, in Chicago. He was raised largely by his grandmother, both his parents having left the household during Rawls childhood. Rawls grew up on Chicagos south side, at a time when the area was in the process of ascending to its place at the top of the blues world. Rawlss south-side neighborhood was a hotbed of musical talent, eventually producing such successful acts as Curtis Mayfield, the Dells, and Sam Cooke. He saw concerts by such acts as Arthur Prysock and the legendary Louis Armstrong at the south sides Regal Theater, but Rawls instincts were

At a Glance

Born Louis Allen Rawls, December 1, 1936, in Chicago; son of Virgil (a Baptist minister) and Evelyn Rawls; raised mostly by grandmother Eliza Rawls; married to wife Lana Jean 1962-72; children: Louanna, Lou Jr.

Career: Vocalist Sang gospel music in church from age of seven; joined gospel group Pilgrim Travelers (other members included Sam Cooke), mid-1950s; signed by Capitol Records, 1962; gold album and mainstream success with LP Lou Rawls Live, 1966; recorded single Natural Man for MGM, 1971; signed by Philadelphia International label, 1975; widespread success working with producers Gamble and Huff, late-1970s; launched United Negro College Fund Parade of Stars television i fundraiser, 1979; many recordings and television and film appearances, 1980s 1990s.

Awards: Grammy awards for single Dead End Street, 1967; LP A Natural Man, 1971; LP Unmistakably Lou, 1977. One platinum and four gold albums.

Addresses: Label-do Blue Note/Capitol Records, 1190 Avenue of the Americas, 35th floor, New York, NY 10104; Philadelphia International Records, c/o CBS Records, 51 W. 52nd St., New York, NY 10019. Personal representation-Tbe Brokaw Co., 9255 Sunset Blvd., Suite 804, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

more rooted in Gospel music, having sung in his grandmothers Baptist church choir at age 7.

After singing with gospel groups as a teenager, Rawls joined with Cooke and two other vocalists to form the Pilgrim Travelers. After completing a stint in the U.S. Army, Rawls toured extensively with the group, but in 1958 the groups car collided with a truck. While Cooke escaped with minor injuries, Rawls was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital, remained in a coma for most of the next week, and suffered memory loss lasting a year. The terrible accident proved to be a life-changing experience for the singer. I had plenty of time to think, he later told the Arizona Republic. I didnt want to just go someday; I really wanted to do something good, to make a mark.

Rawls began making appearances wherever he could build his skillson the blues-oriented chitlin circuit and in small clubs and coffeehouses around Los Angeles. His finances were straitened, but he did land a small part in the 77 Sunset Strip television series. While performing at a Hollywood club called Pandoras Box, located close to the headquarters of Capitol Records, Rawls was spotted by a Capitol producer and signed to the label in 1962. Another success that year was singing backup vocal to Cooke on Cookes hit Bring It on Home to Me. That classic recording harkened back to the days when Cooke and Rawls had sung gospel music together.

Successful LPS on Capitol

The artists first big sellers came when he began to introduce blues stage devices, such as monologues about poverty, into his music. A 1964 recording of the powerful country classic Tobacco Road gained some notice; the song remains a fixture of Rawls live shows. The 1966 LP Lou Rawls Live effectively showcased the monologue technique and gave Rawls his first gold record. From then until his departure from Capitol in 1971, Rawls recordings were reliably successful; he recorded a total of 28 albums for the label during this period.

Rawls moved briefly to the MGM label in 1971, and quickly notched one of the biggest hits of his career with Natural Man, originally the B side of another song released as a single. But the singer clashed with MGM executives over the lightweight musical fare that they were sending his way, and he soon left the label, signing briefly with the independent Bell Records, where he collaborated with the songwriting pair of Darryl Hall and John Oates. In 1975 Rawls found success when he embarked on a collaboration with another hitmaking pair, the Philadelphia producers and songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Signing with the duos Philadelphia International label, he released such singles as Youll Never Find (Another Love Like Mine), which became a million-seller in 1976 and garnered substantial play in the dance clubs that incubated the emerging style known as disco.

With this music Rawls found himself a long way from his chitlin-circuit roots. The style pioneered by Gamble and Huff was heavily produced, aimed at sharp-dressed urban crowds. Yet Rawls adapted seamlessly and showed staying power in his new incarnation as hitmaker. The 1977 LP Undeniably Lou won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance, and Rawls continued to record for Philadelphia International well into the 1980s.

Founded Parade of Stars Telethon

Rawls parlayed his celebrity into a lucrative position as advertising spokesman for the giant Anheuser-Busch brewery, makers of Budweiser beer. The brewery backed the singer in what has become the most recognizable and important activity of his later career: his establishment and nurturing of the annual Parade of Stars telethon, conducted for the benefit of the United Negro College Fund. Rawls still serves as host of the television program, which has varied between three and seven hours in length and which has showcased leading performers in a variety of musical styles.

In 1998, the Parade of Stars (that year renamed An Evening of Stars) aired on sixty television stations with a potential viewer ship of about 90 million viewers. That year, USA Today estimated the telethons total earnings since its inception at $175 million. The money benefited a group of small, historically black colleges and universities, all of which opened their doors to students of limited economic means. Tens of thousands of African American students quite simply owed their college educations to Lou Rawls.

Rawls kept busy as a performer in the 1990s, with an acclaimed 1993 Christmas release, a series of television appearances as an actor, and a planned 1998 release of new music on a rejuvenated Philadelphia International label. But Rawls was far more than a figurehead on the fundraising telethon, and it continued to consume much of his energy. As he told the Arizona Republic, It is, by far, my proudest achievement.

Selected discography

Tobacco Road, Capitol, 1963.

Lou Rawls Live, Capitol, 1966.

Best from Lou Rawls, Capitol, 1968.

A Natural Man, MGM, 1971.

All Things in Time, Philadelphia International, 1976.

Unmistakably Lou, Philadelphia International, 1977.

When the Night Comes, Epic, 1983.

Its Supposed to Be Fun, Blue Note, 1990.

Portrait of the Blues, Manhattan, 1993.

Christmas Is the Time, Manhattan, 1993.

Ballads, Capitol, 1997 (reissue).

Love Is a Hurtin Thing, Capitol, 1997 (reissue).

Sources

Books

Stambler, Irwin, The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul, rev. ed., St.

Martins, 1989.

Larkin, Colin, editor, The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness, 1992.

Romanowski, Patricia, editor, The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock &

Roll, Fireside, 1995.

Contemporary Musicians, volume 19, Gale, 1997.

Periodicals

American Business Review, July 12, 1997, p. 5

Arizona Republic, April 25, 1997, p. D13.

Ebony, October 1978, p. 112.

Jet, November 17, 1997, p. 64.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 3, 1997, p. E4.

Stereo Review, July 1993, p. 91.

USA Today, October 16, 1997, p. D4; January 18, 1998, p. D3.

James M. Manheim

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

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"Rawls, Lou 1936–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Rawls, Lou 1936–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rawls-lou-1936

"Rawls, Lou 1936–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rawls-lou-1936