Sam Cooke had his fair share of hits, but he didn't live to see the success of his masterpiece, the protest song “A Change is Gonna Come.” Now that it’s been enshrined at the Library of Congress, NPR takes a look at the civil rights anthem and its creator, whom Aretha Franklin calls “one of the greatest singers of all time.”
Cooke was determined never to have a 9-to-5 job, his brother recalls. He started out as a gospel singer and soon scaled the secular charts. Then, in 1963, he heard Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and felt compelled to write his own protest number. Shortly after the release of the song now considered his masterpiece, in December 1964, Cooke was shot and killed.