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Louis Rawls was born on this date in 1933. He was a Black singer, entertainer, and education activist.
Born in Chicago, Louis Allen Rawls was raised on the South Side of the city by his grandmother. He was a member of his Baptist church choir when he was seven. As a teenager, his singing expanded with trips to the Regal Theater to see Billy Eckstine, Arthur Prysock, and Joe Williams. A high school classmate of Sam Cooke, Rawls sang with Cooke in the Teenage Kings of Harmony, a 1950s gospel group.
During that time he moved to Los Angeles and sang with the Chosen Gospel Singers, where he was first recorded. He then sang with the Pilgrim Travelers before enlisting in 1955 as a paratrooper in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. Three years later, Sergeant Rawls left the service and rejoined the Travelers. That same year (1958), while touring the South with the Travelers and Sam Cooke, Rawls was in a serious car crash that killed one passenger. Rawls was pronounced dead before getting to the hospital where he stayed in a coma for almost a week. It took him months to regain his memory and a year to fully recuperate, and he considered the event life-changing.
Rawls was signed to Capitol Records in 1962, the same year he sang background vocals with Sam Cooke’s recording of "Bring it on Home to Me". His first Capitol release was "Stormy Monday". Though his 1966 album "Live!" went gold, Rawls wouldn't have a star-making hit until he made "Soulin”. The album contained his first R&B #1 single, "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing." In 1967, he won his first Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance for "Dead End Street." In 1971, Rawls released the Grammy-winning single "Natural Man"; five years later his greatest album success came with "All Things in Time." The album produced his most successful single, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," which topped the R&B charts, went to number two on the pop side, and went platinum.
Other albums, such as 1977's "When You've Heard Lou, You've Heard It All," yielded such Top 25 singles as "Lady Love." During his life, Rawls released more than 70 albums, sang in movies, television shows and voiced over many cartoons.
On December 19, 2005, Rawls tried to annul his two-year marriage to Nina Malek Inman Rawls in order to "protect hundreds of thousands of dollars." The couple had a son together, Aiden Allen Rawls.
Known for his fundraising activities on behalf of education and his smooth vocal style, Frank Sinatra once said that Rawls had "the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game.” In December 2005, it was announced that he was being treated for lung and brain cancer. Lou Rawls died on January 6, 2006.