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A Change Is Gonna Come is a 1964 single by R&B singer-songwriter Sam Cooke. While on tour in May 1963, and after speaking with sit-in demonstrators in Durham, North Carolina following a concert, Sam returned to his tour bus and wrote the first draft of what would become the song that, exemplify the sixties’ Civil Rights Movement. The song, very much a departure for Sam Cooke, reflected two major incidents in his life. The first was the death of Sam’s 18-month-old son, Vincent, who died of an accidental drowning earlier that year. The second major incident came, when Sam and his band tried to register at a “whites only” motel in Shreveport, Louisiana and were summarily arrested for disturbing the peace.

After remaining confined to Sam’s notebooks for months of touring, A Change Is Gonna Come was finally recorded on December 21, 1963. Recording took place at the RCA Studios in Los Angeles, California during sessions for Sam’s 1964 album, Ain’t That Good News. Sam gave arranger Rene Hall free rein on the song’s musical arrangement. Rene Hall came up with a dramatic orchestral backing highlighted by a mournful French horn. For his vocal, Sam reached back to his gospel roots to sing the song with an intensity and passion never heard before on his pop recordings.

The song became a sensation among the black community, and was used as an anthem for the ongoing civil rights protests. On R&B radio, the song peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Black Singles chart, and topped many local playlists, most notably in Chicago. However, Sam did not live to see the song’s commercial success. On December 11, 1964, he was killed at the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California under what some consider mysterious circumstances

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