Calvin Cooke Interviews

Calvin Cooke lived most of his life in Detroit and is now retired to the greater Atlanta area.  As his family first belonged to the Church of the Living God and later joined the House of God, he immersed himself in the steel guitar musical traditions of both denominations.  Felton Williams served as a steel guitar mentor to Calvin Cooke, Sonny Treadway and Ron Hall when they were teens.  For years, Ron Hall backed up Calvin’s innovative steel guitar playing for worship services, and the two developed a special musical synergy.  Calvin is also a talented singer and songwriter, and his wife, Grace Cooke, frequently sings with him.  Since retiring from his job at a Chrysler auto assembly plant, he has toured extensively with his Sacred Steel Ensemble, played as an opening act for Robert Randolph, and most recently, performed with Chuck Campbell as the Slide Brothers.

– Robert L. Stone

  • RS-025-027 Calvin Cooke Interview 6/12/02 00:00
  • RS-028 Calvin Cooke Interview 8/4/03 00:00
  • RS-029 Calvin Cooke Interview 8/4/03 00:00
  • RS-030 Calvin Cooke Interview 8/4/03 00:00
  • RS-032 Calvin Cooke Interview 2/22/06 00:00
  • RS-033 Calvin Cooke Interview 2/22/06 00:00
  • RS-034 Calvin Cooke Interview 8/7/03 00:00
  • RS-035 Calvin Cooke Interview 9/5/07 00:00
Interviewee: Calvin Cooke
Interviewer: Robert Stone
Date: 6/12/2002, 8/4/2003, 2/22/2006, 8/7/2003, 9/5/2007
Location: Telephone interview
Language: English

For the archive overview:
The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission.

Calvin Cooke Interview Transcripts:

Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.