unnamed (5)Darrian Ford brings the music of “The King of Soul” Chicagoan Sam Cooke alive in THE COOKE BOOK – The Music of Sam Cooke at City Winery (1200 W Randolph St.) at 8 p.m. on August 4and at Lincoln Hall (2424 N Lincoln Ave) at 8 p.m. on August 29 and August 30. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at and

THE COOKE BOOK – The Music of Sam Cooke is a celebration of the greatest hits and lesser-known gems from Cooke’s too-brief life in music, including “Chain Gang,” “You Send Me” and more. Ford’s performance vividly reinterprets Cooke’s magic, paying homage to a man who began his musical journey in Gospel, became an international pop sensation and is widely attributed as the man who invented soul.

Ford, the show’s creator, is joined on stage by musical director John Cicora on guitar, Ben Joseph and Kael Mboya on piano, Tim Ipsen on bass, Alfonzo Jones on drums and Jaymes Osborne on background and additional vocals. Together, they perform an unforgettable evening of favorites including “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “Change is Gonna Come,” “Cupid,” “Wonderful World,” “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” and “You Send Me.” Additionally, the band members all provide background vocals to accompany their instrumentals. “It’s unique to have my whole team singing with me,” says Ford. “It is truly a collaboration on stage to pay Sam Cooke the tribute he deserves.”

Sam Cooke, born in 1931, is considered by many to be the definitive creator of soul. Cooke blended sensuality and spirituality, sophistication and soul, movie idol looks and Gospel singer poise all during a short but remarkable career. “You Send Me,” one of Cooke’s earliest secular hits, was the first of a staggering 29 Top 40 Hits by the Chicago-raised son of a Baptist minister. In addition to his enormously successful repertoire, Cooke established himself as a groundbreaking black entrepreneur within the mainstream music industry, founding his own publishing company, Kags Music, and launching a record label, SAR/Derby. Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel in 1964, tragically ending his life after just 33 years. His influence can be heard in every generation of music since. Cooke was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Darrian Ford, the show’s creator and performer, is a Chicago native like Cooke. Ford began his professional theater career at age 13 in “Great Nitty Gritty.” At 15 he danced with the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater and at 19 moved to New York City to dance in the companies of Alvin Ailey and Donald Byrd/The Group. He made his Broadway debut as Charlie in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “State Fair,” about which the New York Times said “…note the expert dancing of the irrepressibly comic Darrian Ford.” He also appeared in “The Who’s TOMMY” (B’way/First National) and “Smokey Joe’s Café” (First National) for which he won The Black Theater Alliance Award for Best Actor in a Musical. His most recent theatrical work was in the First National tour of “The Color Purple.”

Ford co-starred opposite Halle Berry in HBO’s “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” as Fayard Nicholas of the legendary Nicholas Brothers. In addition to a dozen appearances on daytime talk shows, Ford has been featured on several of his Broadway colleagues’ albums. As a singer and songwriter, Ford has collaborated with industry heavy hitters like Allan Rich, Baby Boy, Robbie Buchannon and Bill Esses, who co-produced Ford’s CD, “EVERYTHING”. As a filmmaker, his film “Brother’s Keeper” has made rounds at several festivals and is currently being adapted for the stage. Since its 2008 debut, Ford has continued to perform THE COOKE BOOK around the country and is dedicated to developing the show into a grand production, complete with orchestra, that he envisions to be worthy of the legendary Cooke.

About the Band
John “Chick” Cicora, the band musical director and guitarist, is a multi-instrumental teacher, arranger and composer. He has worked closely with the music, visual arts, dance, and theater communities in Chicago for eight years. Cicora has recorded two albums with Vanguard records and founded the Chicago artist collective The Inconvenience in 2009. Today, he is a member of their music department and has scored music for film, dance, theater and more. In 2012, Cicora was the musical director and bass player for The Inconvenience’s world premiere of “Hit the Wall” at the Steppenwolf Garage.

Ben “Benny” Joseph, (ONLY at City Winery performance) on piano, is a musician, arranger and producer in Chicago. He has toured North America and Europe with artists including Ezra Furman and Jennifer Hall and has played alongside Darryl Jones (Rolling Stones), Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Average White Band), Ed Cherney (Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt) and Hamish Stuart (Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr). He appeared in Ezra Furman’s latest album, “Day of the Dog,” which received international acclaim including a five star review in The Guardian.

Kael Mboya, (ONLY at Lincoln Hall performances) is an accomplished keyboard player with more than 15 years of experience in the music industry. Mboya, who began playing piano at five years old, has experience in many musical genres, which provide him the versatility to add character to all styles of music. He has performed and toured the U.S. and abroad as Music Director or keyboardist with Grammy winners Meshell Ndegeocello and Malik Yusef, rapper/producer Legendary Traxster and keyboardist George Duke. In 2000, Mboya founded the band Ascendant as a vehicle for his unique musical expression. Mboya continues to share his musical and production talents through Ascendant Music Inc.

Alfonzo “Spanky” Jones, on drums, began playing at the age of two and hasn’t stopped since. He has accompanied world renowned artists like Martha Munizzi, Rance Allen, Danny Boy, Wynton Marsalis, Orbert Davis and Hamiette Bluette. Jones collaborates regularly with Chicago and St. Louis artists like The Larry Brown Group and D.O.T. He currently plays with NEW SOUND as well as The Liberty Temple and is endorsed by Exodus World Class Cymbals.

Tim “Tipsy” Ipsen, on bass, is from Chicago and began playing bass at eleven years old. Music has taken Ipsen throughout the country, as well as abroad to Europe and China. He has played with musical greats like Cedar Walton, Tom Harrell, Jon Faddis, Fred Wesley and Von Freeman. Ipsen can be heard on the recordings of “A Man and His Ego/Evelyn” by Nootka Sound, “Prelude – The EP” by Justefan Band, “Neptune Deuce” by Legend Haz It and “Gone West” by Dan Meinhardt.

Jaymes “Just Jaymes” Osborne, providing background and additional vocals, is a Lafayette, Indiana native who works with Chicago’s youth in Chicago Public Schools to bring live, educational entertainment to schools and the community with American Eagle Productions Children’s Company. Osborne is highly active in Chicago theater and was last seen in “Smokey Joe’s Café” at The Royal George. Other Chicago credits include “The Wiz,” “The Color Purple” and “Annie Get Your Gun.” Osborne has also choreographed shows including “The Wedding Singer,” “Grease” and “Hairspray.”

Darrian Ford brings the music of soul sensation and Chicago native Sam Cooke alive in THE COOKE BOOK – The Music of Sam Cooke at City Winery (1200 W Randolph St.) at 8 p.m. on August 4 and at Lincoln Hall (2424 N Lincoln Ave) at 8 p.m. on August 29 and August 30. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at and