Darrian Ford Sets Chicago Concerts for Next Month

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Darrian Ford Sets Chicago Concerts for Next Month

Darrian Ford brings the music of "The King of Soul" Chicagoan Sam Cooke alive in THE COOKE BOOK - The Music of Sam Cooke at City Winery (1200 W Randolph St.) at 8 p.m. on August 4 and at Lincoln Hall (2424 N Lincoln Ave) at 8 p.m. on August 29 and August 30. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at citywinery.com and lincolnhallchicago.com.

THE COOKE BOOK - The Music of Sam Cooke is a celebration of the greatest hits and lesser-known gems from Cooke's too-brief life in music, including "Chain Gang," "You Send Me" and more. Ford's performance vividly reinterprets Cooke's magic, paying homage to a man who began his musical journey in Gospel, became an international pop sensation and is widely attributed as the man who invented soul.

Ford, the show's creator, is joined on stage by musical director John Cicora on guitar, Ben Joseph and Kael Mboya on piano, Tim Ipsen on bass, Alfonzo Jones on drums and Jaymes Osborne on background and additional vocals. Together, they perform an unforgettable evening of favorites including "Twistin' the Night Away," "Change is Gonna Come," "Cupid," "Wonderful World," "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and "You Send Me." Additionally, the band members all provide background vocals to accompany their instrumentals. "It's unique to have my whole team singing with me," says Ford. "It is truly a collaboration on stage to pay Sam Cooke the tribute he deserves."

Sam Cooke, born in 1931, is considered by many to be the definitive creator of soul. Cooke blended sensuality and spirituality, sophistication and soul, movie idol looks and Gospel singer poise all during a short but remarkable career. "You Send Me," one of Cooke's earliest secular hits, was the first of a staggering 29 Top 40 Hits by the Chicago-raised son of a Baptist minister. In addition to his enormously successful repertoire, Cooke established himself as a groundbreaking black entrepreneur within the mainstream music industry, founding his own publishing company, Kags Music, and launching a record label, SAR/Derby. Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel in 1964, tragically ending his life after just 33 years. His influence can be heard in every generation of music since. Cooke was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Darrian Ford, the show's creator and performer, is a Chicago native like Cooke. Ford began his professional theater career at age 13 in "Great Nitty Gritty." At 15 he danced with the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater and at 19 moved to New York City to dance in the companies of Alvin Ailey and Donald Byrd/The Group. He made his Broadway debut as Charlie in Rodgers & Hammerstein's "State Fair," about which the New York Times said "...note the expert dancing of the irrepressibly comic Darrian Ford." He also appeared in "The Who's TOMMY" (B'way/First National) and "Smokey Joe's Café" (First National) for which he won The Black Theater Alliance Award for Best Actor in a Musical. His most recent theatrical work was in the First National tour of "The Color Purple."

Ford co-starred opposite Halle Berry in HBO's "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" as Fayard Nicholas of the legendary Nicholas Brothers. In addition to a dozen appearances on daytime talk shows, Ford has been featured on several of his Broadway colleagues' albums. As a singer and songwriter, Ford has collaborated with industry heavy hitters like Allan Rich, Baby Boy, Robbie Buchannon and Bill Esses, who co-produced Ford's CD, "EVERYTHING". As a filmmaker, his film "Brother's Keeper" has made rounds at several festivals and is currently being adapted for the stage. Since its 2008 debut, Ford has continued to perform THE COOKE BOOK around the country and is dedicated to developing the show into a grand production, complete with orchestra, that he envisions to be worthy of the legendary Cooke.

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