Sam Cooke: Crossing Over

A look at the musical and political significance of composer and performer Sam Cooke and the circumstances that led to his murder.

American Masters
Premiere Date
January 11, 2010
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

John Antonelli

For 20 years, John Antonelli has been producing award-winning documentary and educational projects for public televison, theatrical distribution, and cable TV. Antonelli produces Global Focus: The New Environmentalists, a series of short documentaries that are broadcast on PBS stations nationwide and on The Sundance Channel's The Green series.Angle of Inspiration, his recent film about architect Santiago Calatrava, was shown on numerous PBS stations and won acclaim on the festival circuit. Antonelli's feature-length film Kerouac played theatrically in every major city in the U.S. and Canada and is distributed theatrically by October Films and on home video internationally by Goldhil Home Entertainment. It was broadcast to critical acclaim on the Arts & Entertainment Network, PBS, The Learning Channel, and in a number of major European markets. The film was awarded a Blue Ribbon from the American Film Festival for Best Feature Length Film, as well as the award for Best Film from Northern California at the National Educational Film Festival. It was shown in competition at the Sundance Festival.


D. Channsin Berry

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The Film

In 1958, when Sam Cooke crossed over from gospel to "the devil's music," he set in motion a chain of events that altered the course of popular music and race relations in America. Sam Cooke: Crossing Over examines Cooke's musical and political significance during the early civil rights movement and unravels some of the myths surrounding his life and death, revealing a complex portrait of a flawed but talented man.