Gospel Music’s Soul Stirrers Will Delight Even Nonbelievers

The Soul Stirrers
Joy in My Soul: The Complete SAR Records Recordings

From the late ’50s until his death in 1964, the great R&B singer Sam Cooke championed other important artists on his SAR Records label. Having launched his own career in the early ’50s as a member of gospel music institution the Soul Stirrers, it was only natural that Cooke produce and write for the group when he got the chance. Featuring 33 tracks (including four previously unreleased songs) on two discs, Joy in My Soul will delight believers and nonbelievers alike. The fiery lead vocals and rousing harmonies crackle with uplifting vitality, offering a template for soul music. There’s no telling how popular the Soul Stirrers could have become with secular audiences if they’d been willing leave the church.