Exploring ‘A Natural Man’: The Enduring Legacy of Lou Rawls

Exploring ‘A Natural Man’: The Enduring Legacy of Lou Rawls

Lou Rawls, a figure synonymous with soulful expression and profound musicality, left an indelible mark on the world of music. His legacy, encapsulated in the timeless track “A Natural Man,” continues to resonate with audiences around the globe. This article delves into the life, career, and enduring influence of Lou Rawls, exploring how his work has shaped the landscape of music and continues to inspire generations.

The Life of Lou Rawls

Born in Chicago in 1933, Lou Rawls’ journey into music began at a young age, singing in his church choir. His rich, velvety voice quickly set him apart, leading to a career that spanned over five decades. Rawls’ music, characterized by its emotional depth and versatility, traversed genres from gospel to soul, jazz, and blues, earning him a place in the hearts of millions.

Early Career

Rawls’ early career was marked by his collaborations with notable artists such as Sam Cooke. His initial foray into the music industry was not without its challenges, but Rawls’ perseverance and unique vocal style soon led to his breakthrough.

Rise to Fame

The release of “A Natural Man” in 1971 catapulted Rawls to stardom, earning him a Grammy Award and solidifying his status as a music icon. The song, with its smooth delivery and poignant lyrics, captured the essence of Rawls’ artistry and his ability to connect with listeners on a deeply personal level.

The Music of Lou Rawls

Lou Rawls’ discography is a testament to his versatility as an artist. With over 60 albums to his name, Rawls explored a range of themes and genres, each album offering a new facet of his musical genius.

Notable Albums

  • Stormy Monday (1962) – A collaboration with Les McCann, this album showcases Rawls’ jazz influences.
  • Live! (1966) – This live recording captures the electric energy of Rawls’ performances, featuring his hit “Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing.”
  • All Things in Time (1976) – Featuring “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” this album highlights Rawls’ soulful sound.

Signature Songs

  • “A Natural Man” – A Grammy-winning track that epitomizes Rawls’ smooth vocal style and charisma.
  • “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” – One of Rawls’ biggest hits, showcasing his ability to convey deep emotion.
  • “Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing” – A powerful ballad that highlights Rawls’ gospel roots and emotional depth.

The Legacy of Lou Rawls

Lou Rawls’ impact on music extends far beyond his lifetime. His contributions to the genres of soul, jazz, and R&B have influenced countless artists and continue to inspire new generations of musicians.

Influence on Music

Rawls’ unique blend of musical styles and his profound lyrical storytelling have left a lasting imprint on the music industry. Artists across genres cite Rawls as a major influence, drawn to his emotional authenticity and vocal prowess.


Beyond his musical legacy, Rawls was also known for his philanthropic efforts, particularly his work with the United Negro College Fund. His annual telethon raised millions of dollars for education, showcasing his commitment to giving back to the community.


Lou Rawls’ legacy as “A Natural Man” in the realm of music is undeniable. His ability to touch the hearts of listeners, combined with his contributions to various musical genres and his philanthropic work, cements his status as a legend. As we continue to explore and celebrate his life and music, Rawls’ influence remains a beacon for aspiring artists and a reminder of the power of authentic expression.

Lou Rawls Awards and Nominations
Year Award Category Result
1971 Grammy Award Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Won
1977 Grammy Award Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Nominated
1982 Grammy Award Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Nominated

Lou Rawls’ journey from a choir boy in Chicago to a celebrated music icon is a testament to his talent, resilience, and the universal appeal of his music. “A Natural Man” not only defined his career but also continues to inspire those who seek to make a genuine connection through music.