Solomon Burke | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Solomon Burke 

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Soul legend Solomon Burke began his career as a gospel singer, scoring his first hit with "Christmas Presents From Heaven" in 1954. He was all of 14 then, but he already knew his way around a mike: as a preteen he hosted a radio ministry in his native Philadelphia and worked the tent-show revival circuit as the "wonder boy preacher." He recorded a series of gospel LPs for Savoy in the 80s, and his version of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," from Take Me, Shake Me (1983), was nominated for a Grammy. Though he's presently the bishop of the Los Angeles ministry House of God for All People, these days he's also enjoying a revitalized career as a secular soul singer. Like Sam Cooke or Al Green, Burke sounds best against relatively spare backing, so Don Was's bombastic production on his latest, Make Do With What You Got (Shout! Factory), seems misguided--a lesser singer would've been bludgeoned into submission by the fuzzed-out guitars and bottom-heavy mix. This show represents a rare opportunity to see Burke in a gospel setting: he'll be accompanied by the local 32-piece Destiny Worship Center Choir, and with his multioctave range and emotional force he should sound amazing buoyed by that kind of vocal power. Sat 6/4, 7:30 PM, Chicago Gospel Music Festival (see page 45 for complete lineup), Pritzker Pavilion, 100 N. Michigan, 312-744-3315. Free. All ages.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paul Brissman.

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