Says Whut? - Johnny Gill and Malik Yoba Star in New Sam Cooke Musical

BWAHAHAHA at these pics....I loves me some Google

There are reasons when after a long, tiring and boring workday, I rush to check my e-mail...this apparently was one of those days for me to be surprised.

From the Press Release (don't really feel like summarizing right now):

Los Angeles, CA ( - Coming summer of 2008 Urban Musical Tours, LLC ("UMT") kicks off its inaugural season with a brand new musical, "Sam Cooke: Forever Mr. Soul," featuring multi-platinum recording artist, JOHNNY GILL, the phenomenal actor of stage, TV, and film, MALIK YOBA, and soul-stirring Gospel/R&B vocalist, TONY TERRY, attached to star.

Accomplished Broadway veteran Kevin Ramsey, playwright & director, has teamed up with rap and gospel music manager Greg "Uncle G" Lyons, veteran Wall Street analyst Randy Richardson, and entertainment attorney Terry Oneal to take the critically acclaimed show on a 30-city road trip that will lead to a Broadway finale.

The partners formed the new production company UMT, after the show's box-office success at the Milwaukee Rep, and subsequent world premiere at the Delaware Theater Company in 2006, and is the first among many musical projects and African American themed stories it will bring to stage, television, film, and internet.

Talking about the upcoming production, playwright/director Kevin Ramsey had this to say: "We are thrilled to have attached such extraordinary talent to this landmark theatrical event. On a rotating basis, each star will individually portray Sam Cooke. This musical celebrates the life of a legendary American musical genius that touched the world with his music. It explores the world that shaped Sam Cooke's life and his untimely and tragic ending."

Sam Cooke's unique musical styling touched millions worldwide and his life was replete with drama and intrigue. Indeed, Sam Cooke's life is one of the great unsolved mysteries ever to rock the music world. And in a bold grassroots effort to build awareness of the man, his song and his story, the production will feature some of the countries most prolific gospel choirs, as local talent, in select scenes. UMT partner, Greg Lyons states, "Our vision is to reach African Americans at the community level with a story that originates from that community. Involving and embracing the local church choirs creates a level of community involvement that is authentic and unprecedented."

Malik Yoba echoes similar sentiments: "When Kevin brought this project to me I knew instantly that it was an opportunity of a lifetime to participate as a performer, as well as, a producer. I am the world's biggest Sam Cooke fan." This critically acclaimed and celebrated work opened to rave reviews in 2006:


"A MAGICAL COOKE." - Philadelphia City Paper

"ENTERTAINING AND INFORMATIVE fusion of biography and music, fashioned charmingly by the talented writer and director Kevin Ramsey...BEAUTIFULLY EXECUTED...CLEVERLY STAGED." - Time Out



"[Forever Mr. Soul] IS SO MUCH SMARTER than recently opened jukebox musicals...A FLUID NARRATIVE." - Philadelphia Daily News

In addition, UMT partner Terry Oneal points out, "As we secure financing and sponsorships our aim is to further build upon the highly successful business model of Tyler Perry's theatrical ventures, as well as, implementing the marketing strategy that underscores the continuing success of "The Color Purple" to convert significant numbers of non-theatergoing African Americans into a new audience for the show."

Johnny Gill affirms, "Sam was an influential and amazing talent whose journey was similar to my own church up-bringing, and that of many African American singers in America. This is a wonderful opportunity to tell the story of one of my heroes." "Sam is so important to us today," Tony Terry comments, "If there was never him, where would we be?"

Sam Cooke was and is an awesome force in Black Music and Soul Music, but to me, the lineup for this joint seems random as all get out. At least Johnny Gill does have the vocal chops to not be a total mess.

And where in the hell was Tony Terry hiding under a rock for the past decade or so?

Hopefully it works out well and won't turn into "MaMa I Can SANG, Please Make Me Some Chicken WANGS Part 2000" in the Black Theatre circut, especially since everyone's trying to pull a Tyler Perry and get that loot (and mostly, I can't be mad at them on that level, even though Tyler got my mom's addicted to Medea plays).

After seeing a lineup for one show on a flyer at the fish fry joint a few months back in DC with Ginuwine, Vivica Fox and Richard Roundtree (for real, I'm not even playing), let's just not have this be an embarrassment shall we?

Here are some websites for these folks:

Sam Cooke Official Website

Malik Yoba IDMB Website
Johnny Gill Wikipedia Website
Tony Terry Website


Here is the website for the play right here to see what's up - it does look legit, I must say.

And of course, its wack to talk about Sam Cooke and not have some video of him performing live to see what he was really about and how good he was, so here goes (yay YouTube):

Cassius Clay (also known as Muhammad Ali) & Sam Cooke "The Gang's All Here"

Sam Cooke "Ain't That Good News"


BLK said...

No i was kinda like huh? In terms of the lineup I am not hating but really I think Sam Cooke deserves more than this. I love Sam Cooke.

DJ Fusion/FuseBox Radio said...

Word up, pretty much how I feel.

I mean the lineup could have been WAY worse on this play on the real, but with all of the talented folks who can sing and act out there, I think it could have been done a bit better and folks did the quick casting action.

Long as Johnny doesn't get on some a**hole-lery if he's good in the play like what happened to Jamie Foxx, then I'm peace.

Maybe the other side folks lined up will be on point.

Erik Greene said...

As Sam's great-nephew and the author of "Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective" (, I've seen this play several times in its infancy and was impressed with Kevin Ramsey's production. The storyline is the key here, and it was solid with a talented but relatively unknown Lawrence Stallings playing the lead. It's possible some of the names mentioned could take "Forever Mr. Soul" to even greater heights, so let's keep an open mind.

DJ Fusion/FuseBox Radio said...

Hello Mr. Greene,

Thank you for your feedback and information on the play and checking out the website, especially as a family member of Mr. Cooke.

Looking through the website for the production, as stated in my update on this post, it does look like a legitimate show and I certainly hope it is with the impact that Sam Cooke has made in Black Music should not get the short shrift.

I just have my worries in the realm of black theatre and cultral productions in general in this day and age where we know that subpar things have been put out for the Black Community.

Thanks again for checking us out.