Rome . . . Walking Hand in Song with R&B History

June 10 [7:55 EDT] -- Clear-voiced R&B singer Rome scored a surprising top 10 hit with "I Belong To You (Every Time I See Your Face)," a ballad that walks the line between convincing intensity and overstated anguish. That Rome, a newcomer from Benton Harbor, Michigan, scored a hit with no fanfare is something else. The RCA-recording artist bears the weight of extending his label's distinguished history.

"I Belong To You (Every Time I See Your Face)" is RCA's biggest hit by a male R&B singer in 32 years. The last cat to nail a top ten notch for the venerable label was the legendary Sam Cooke. One of the most successful artists of the first decade of the rock era, Cooke laid the foundation for soul music when he mixed gospel with secular songs. Cooke's "Shake," backed by the socially conscious torch song "A Change Is Gonna Come," splashed the charts in January, 1965, just four weeks after Cooke was shot to death in a hotel lobby. In any event, it's been awhile for RCA.

On his self-titled debut, Rome also merges gospel and secular styles. He tips the hat to one of the soul music's relatively contemporary masters in his remake of Bobby Womack's '70s classic, "That's The Way I Feel About Cha."