Celebrate the legendary Sam Cooke at Wingate University

Contact: Kim Williams
Communications Writer 704-233-8320

Wingate, N.C. Darrian Ford captures the charisma and celebrates the music of legendary soul singer Sam Cooke in THE COOKE BOOK: The Music of Sam Cooke at Wingate University’s Batte Center on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Considered by many to be the definitive soul singer, Sam Cooke blended sensuality and spirituality, sophistication and soul, movie idol looks and Gospel singer poise. "You Send Me," one of Cooke's earliest hits, was the first of 29 Top 40 hits by the Chicago-raised, singing son of a Baptist minister. His other chart-topping hit songs included “Twistin' the Night Away,” “Another Saturday Night,” “Chain Gang,” “Wonderful World,” “Only Sixteen” and many more. In addition to being a successful performer, Cooke established himself as a groundbreaking entrepreneur within the mainstream music industry, founding his own publishing company, Kags Music, and independent record label SAR/Derby. Tragically, Cooke was shot and killed in Los Angeles on Dec. 11, 1964 but his music and influence can still be felt today.

Chicago native DARRIAN FORD began his professional performing career at age 13. His career has spanned Concert Dance companies of Alvin Ailey and Donald Byrd/The Group; Broadway credits include STATE FAIR, THE WHO'S TOMMY and the first national tours of THE COLOR PURPLE and SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE. On film he co-starred in "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" with Halle Berry and had a recurring role on Disney's "That's So Raven". With nearly a dozen musical guest appearances on both day and night time TV talk shows, he can also be heard on Broadway colleague albums, musical concept albums and his own CD "Everything". His original musical, THE COOKE BOOK/ The Music of Sam Cooke, was produced by North Carolina Theater in 2008.

The performance will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in McGee Theatre in The Batte Center on campus. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at or by calling the Batte Center Box Office at 704-233-8300 or Carolina Tix at 704-372-1000.

The Batte Center
Opened in 1999, the George A. Batte, Jr. Fine Arts Center presents events in the McGee Theatre, Plyer-Griffin Recital Hall and Austin Auditorium. Located just a short five minute drive from Monroe, The Batte is just 2 blocks off of Highway 74 and only 30 miles east of Charlotte. Free parking is plentiful and all three performance spaces offer full wheelchair accessibility.

Wingate University
Wingate University, ranked as the 6th "best value" in the South by U.S. News & World Report, serves nearly 2,700 students on three campuses in Wingate, Matthews and Hendersonville, N.C. Founded in 1896, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors, 37 minors and career concentrations, numerous pre-professional programs, graduate degrees in business, accounting, education, physician assistant studies and sport administration, and doctorates in pharmacy and education. With a 14 to 1 student/teacher ratio, Wingate students gain the tools and support needed to excel in academics and apply that learning toward an extraordinary career and life.

In addition to a robust intramural athletics program, Wingate student athletes compete in 22 NCAA Division II sports. The University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past six years. For more information, go to