The smooth sounds of Sam Cooke poured out into a big crowd at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre Saturday, Sept. 29.
Fans had arrived early, anticipating that Soul King would a great show, as it previously had lit up smaller stages in the Cowichan Valley. There was a buzz in the lobby, and it continued upstairs as friends and family of the cast joined the throng of music lovers.
When the main character, Cooke, played by Michael Clarke, finally began to tell his story, everyone was ready.
And what a story it was, with Clarke starting at the end and showing how it appeared Sam Cooke died, and then going back to the beginning.
From his first note, everyone knew it was going to be a special performance. Clarke can really present that sweet soul music. We’re not talking Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin here, though. Cooke was no shouter and neither is Clarke.
This was supper club soul, warm as a southern breeze, but also elegant: the epitome of cool.
Cooke may have started his life as a choirboy and followed that into a successful stint with the Soul Stirrers, then the kings of black gospel, but his tale also included several wives and children, failed relationships, and, most shocking to his original fans, the leaving behind of his gospel roots for the lure of the bright lights of popular music.
In presenting his fascinating musical story, Clarke was ably abetted by Crofton’s Glaucia Desrochers, whose dark-toned voice added delicious chocolate caramel to his golden honey, making for a tasty stroll into soul.
Other cast members included Sarah Carlé, Andrew Wilson, Donn Tarris, Alan Kerr, and Alicia Murray.
Producers Judith and Gerry Fewster, of Cedrick’s Tea and Coffee House, had the idea that their non-profit coffee shop could donate its profits to KIDS International, a Vancouver-based registered charity. They’ve seen that thought put down roots, and blossom into a sustainable business model that brings communities together.
The production of Soul King has been donated to the cause, with all profits from the show going to Cedrick’s to help with the operating cost and continue to create awareness and donate to KIDS International Development Society.
Fewster is enthusiastic about Soul King.
“Like Irish Rovers legend Will Millar, we believe that Soul King is ‘magic’ and can hold its own with any of the major touring companies across North America. That’s a huge compliment for a show that was born in the Cowichan Valley and features local actors and musicians,” he said.