The Bishop of Soul, Solomon Burke mixed gospel, blues, R&B and country to become one of the earliest self-identifying "soul" artists. Legend has it that he was the one to coin the phrase. This is due to his relationship to the church and not wanting to be labeled a "blues" singer.
He was a preacher in church since the age of 7 and became pastor at 12 and a father at 14. As a teen he worked at a meat market with Chubby Checker. At 15 he was signed to Apollo Records (although the label was told by his manager that he was 19). In the mid-'50s he recorded with jazz saxophonist Lester Young. In '57 he teamed with boxer Joe Louis on the hit song "You Can Run (But You Can't Hide)".
By the early '60s he was blacklisted by his thieving manager and was homeless for a while. He was hit by a car, with the driver taking him in. He studied Islam and mortuary science. He married for the second time and then had a string of hits at Atlantic in the early '60s (including "Cry To Me"). In '65 he covered "Maggie's Farm", becoming the first black artist to sing Bob Dylan's songs.
In 1966 he started the collective of Atlantic singers known as "the Soul Clan" (Burke, Otis Redding, Don Covay, Ben E. King, Joe Tex, Wilson Pickett, Arthur Conley). This collective had the intent to go into both music and real estate and build black-run businesses. (James Brown was an ally as well). They made one album, accompanied by Bobby Womack (after Otis died).
After leaving Atlantic he jumped from label to label in the '70s, while also scoring for black films (such as Cool Breeze). In the '80s he went back to recording gospel records. A 2002 album on Fat Possum reignited his career. Always an entrepreneur, among his many businesses he owned were funeral homes, restaurants, drugstores, a popcorn company, limo service and he was the one who first brought the Mountain Dew soft drink to Philly. He was also a popular bishop and was involved in community service.
The classic "Cry To Me":
Here he is cutting probably the first black-voiced version of a Dylan tune, ca '65: