Feb 25 | Posted by: Sam Moore


Sam Moore’s unmistakable voice is one of the pillars of soul music as we know it. As the tenor vocalist of duo Sam & Dave, Moore’s Gospel-infused howl cut like razor wire and earned him the title “the blast furnace of soul.” Dynamic performances with partner Dave Prater led to billing as “Double Dynamite” and “The Sultans of Sweat.” Timeless tracks, including 1966 single “Hold On! I’m Coming” and 1967’s “Soul Man,” paved the way for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

Moore’s long career has given him a unique perspective on popular music and the recording industry. “This year, I will have been in the business for 60 years,” he says. “Isn’t that something? I have seen practically all of it.”

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 27
Where: City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph
Tickets: $45-$65
Info: (312) 733-9463;

At age 79, Moore continues to challenge himself to create relevant music. His 2014 single “They Killed a King” honors the memory and message of Martin Luther King Jr.

Moore was a contemporary and friend of the civil rights activist. In an age where “Black Lives Matter” is a rallying cry for a problem that many feel should have been solved long ago, the song is a fresh call for unity.

“This is my opinion and no one else’s,” says Moore. “From the time I met [King] and was in his presence, we’ve taken three steps forward and 30 steps back.”

Moore sees hope in the eyes of his grandson Tash. “He is obsessed with Martin Luther King’s legacy, and he’s only 7 years old,” the singer says. “He wants to know and understand everything about him.”

Moore’s appeal crosses boundary lines in all directions. His recent recording with Nu-Blu, “Jesus and Jones,” found him trying bluegrass for the first time. “My big mouth gets me in trouble,” says Moore with a laugh. “I said, ‘I’ll try anything once.’ When I first heard the song, I thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into here?’”

“But they were such wonderful people. They said, ‘Just sing like Sam.’ I thought, ‘What would Sam Cooke have done with the Soul Stirrers?’ I gave it just a little bit of that acrobatic yodel, and it made the song.”

“Jesus and Jones” describes similarities and differences between Jesus Christ and late country heartbreak singer George Jones. Like Moore’s voice, Jones’ was singular in its influence within his genre. Moore laughs when asked about other parallels to Jones’ career.

“Everything from drugs to alcohol and womanizing,” says Moore, who cleaned up and settled down decades ago. “They called him ‘no-show Jones.’ But if George Jones missed a show, he would still pack it the next time. When the drugs started taking their toll on Sam and Dave, and one of us wouldn’t show up, our career went into the toilet. The only other thing we don’t have in common is that I’m a tenor and George was a nice country baritone. Everything else is the same.”

Moore’s partnership with Prater spanned 1961 to 1981 and produced 20 consecutive Top 10 R&B singles during soul music’s Golden Age. Despite the pair’s tumultuous partnership, Moore remembers what made it special.

“When Isaac [Hayes] found out that he couldn’t get Sam and Dave to harmonize like the Everly Brothers, it became more of a churchy kind of call-and-response. What really saved me a lot of times was that Dave could get out there with the band and sing the song, and I could take a short rest. We would come back to end it together.”

“Sometimes we would walk off that stage and almost pass out. That Double Dynamite name came because we would just explode anywhere. It was like being in church with us. I was the preacher and he was the deacon. It was just wonderful for a while.”

Moore’s concert at City Winery will include material from his Grammy-nominated 2006 album “Overnight Sensational.” Bekka Bramlett is scheduled to reprise her duet with Moore during “Don’t Play That Song.” Moore will also have other guests.

“My little granddaughter Misha is looking to have her 15 minutes of fame onstage with Grandpa,” says Moore. “She likes ‘You Are So Beautiful’ and ‘I Thank You.’ She just turned 5.”

Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.

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Jo Howard
Webster & Associates Public Relations