Lou RawlsLou Rawls -- What Makes the Ending So Sad
Lou Rawls -- My Ancestors
Lou Rawls today, mostly because I've had him on repeat a minute. Rawls is a soul/gospel/jazz singer from Chicago's south side, born in the mid-1930s. He was friends with Sam Cooke; and this first track is a Sam Cooke cover. The two of them sang together a bit in a group called "The Teenage Kings of Harmony," which seems not to have recorded anything--which is a damn shame since Cooke tears it up and Rawls does too. He has a four-octave range; he can belt it out warm and high or take it low but smooth. It sounds easy until you try it; most singers have a fairly limited range. You can expand it with practice but it takes time, and Rawls has put in the time.
Rawls is in his late 60s and still active; he put out a Sinatra tribute CD last year, does the occasional voice work or acting, and frequently does fundraising for the United Negro College Fund.
These tracks are both from Rawls' two-disc Anthology set, which is mostly focused on his bluesier side, with some live performances (complete with Rawls' "raps" interspersed throughout) on the second disc. Give it a listen; it's good.
Allmusic.com writeup on Lou Rawls