Lou Rawls really is a “Jesus of Cool” — I’m puzzled as to why so many people (Rawls included) have thought that Sinatra was a great singing talent (a sacrilegious view I realize) — Rawls has THE style and voice, a fantastic baritone! To Sinatra’s credit he admitted as much:
Thus, talent and dedication, rather than marketing and the empty veneer of celebrity, made him the singer’s singer who won the respect of his peers, including Frank Sinatra, an ardent supporter who was reported to have said Rawls had the “silkiest chops in the singing game.” — WSJ
As Jim Fusilli so eloquently puts it:
Lou Rawls … was the kind of pop singer who’s increasingly rare these days. His entire reputation was built on the quality of his voice and how he used it.
There was little extracurricular activity in a performance by Rawls: His purpose was to deliver his song — invariably with impeccable taste in a vocal style burnished by gospel and the blues. The signature gimmick he employed — he would occasionally offer an extended spoken introduction in a low, seductive baritone — seemed his lone concession to show business.
Speaking of which:
Here’s Lou live with the Edmonton Symphony: