Arguably one of the greatest singers of all time, Sam Cooke wielded enormous influence over the direction of black music in the 1950s and 1960s through songs like "You Send Me," "Havin' A Party," "Bring it on Home to Me" and "Shake," which fused white pop and black R&B into a new musical direction called soul music. In doing so, he helped to unify audiences in a way that politics, geography and even religion could not achieve. A major figure in gospel music as leader of the legendary Soul Stirrers in the mid-1950s, Cooke brooked controversy by moving into secular music. But the success of "You Send Me" established him as a star in that field as well, in addition to being one of the rare black artists appreciated by both black and white audiences. Cooke broke down musical borders throughout his all-too-brief career, including the gulf between pop and folk with the civil rights anthem "A Change Is Gonna Come." At the height of his powers, Cooke's life was cut short in an altercation at a Los Angeles motel, bringing to an end one of the most promising careers in popular music. However, his legacy, as heard in the songs of artists ranging from Otis Redding to Rod Stewart, kept alive his message of love, acceptance and joy for the miracle of song.