As you know, February is Black History Month! This year, this site promotes more recent books about African Americans and popular culture. In particular, we list both physical and ebooks on popular American music in its various forms.
Below, you will find an array of influential musicians both current and from history. Please send an email with any suggestions.
Portrait of a Musician. Thomas Hart Benton. 1949. Digital Image. The Kansas City Star. Accessed 22 January 2018. Web.
by Rick Coleman
Call Number: ML420 .D66 C65 2006
Publication Date: 2006-04-24
Rock 'n' roll defined the last half of the twentieth century, and while many think of Elvis Presley as the genre's driving force, the truth is that Fats Domino, whose records have sold more than 100 million copies, was the first to put it on the map with such hits as Ain't That a Shame" and "Blueberry Hill." InBlue Monday, acclaimed R&B scholar Rick Coleman draws on a multitude of new interviews with Fats Domino and many other early musical legends (among them Lloyd Price, the Clovers, Charles Brown, and members of Buddy Holly's group, the Crickets) to create a definitive biography of not just an extraordinary man but also a unique time and place: New Orleans at the birth of rock 'n' roll. Coleman's groundbreaking research makes for an immense cultural biography, the first to thoroughly explore the black roots of rock 'n' roll and its impact on civil rights inAmerica. A true music lovers' biography,Blue Monday, includes new revelations about the politics behind the music labels of the 1930s and 1940s, and provides a searing indictment of the great white myths of rock 'n' roll. Coleman also brings the African-American culture of New Orleans to life, and his narrative is passionate, compassionate, and authoritative.Blue Monday is the first biography to convey the full scope of Fats Domino's impact on the popular music of the twentieth century. "
Huey "Piano" Smith's musical legacy stands alongside that of fellow New Orleans legends Dr. John, Fats Domino, Ernie K-Doe, and Allen Toussaint. His 1957 classic, "Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," made Billboard's top R&B singles chart, and hundreds of artists including Aerosmith, the Grateful Dead, the Beach Boys, Johnny Rivers, and Chubby Checker have recorded his songs. The first biography of the artist responsible for hits "Don't You Just Know It," "High Blood Pressure," and "Sea Cruise," Huey "Piano" Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues follows the musician's extraordinary life from his Depression-era childhood to his teen years as a pianist for blues star Guitar Slim to his mainstream success in the 1950s and '60s. Drawing from extensive interviews and court records, author and journalist John Wirt also provides new insights on Smith's professional disappointments and financial struggles in the 1980s and '90s as he battled over royalties from his most successful and profitable work. An enigmatic and guarded personality in a profession of extroverted performers, Smith made farreaching contributions to the New Orleans music scene as a songwriter, pianist, and producer. Wirt reveals that Smith's numerous collaborations with other artists -- including the Clowns, the Pitter Pats, the Hueys, and Shindig Smith and the Soul Shakers -- served as vehicles for his creative vision rather than simply as an anonymous backup for a leading front man. Throughout this intimate account, Wirt details Smith's significant impact on rock and roll history and underscores both the longevity of his music -- which has entertained and inspired for over five decades -- and the musician's personal endurance in the face of hardship and opposition.
Maceo Parker's signature style became the lynchpin of James Brown's band when he and his brother Melvin joined the Hardest Working Man in Show Business in 1964. That style helped define Brown's brand of funk, and the phrase "Maceo, I want you to blow!" became part of the lexicon of black music. He took time off from James Brown to play with George Clinton's P-funk collective and with Bootsy's Rubber Band; he also formed his own band, Maceo and All the King's Men, whose records are cult favorites among funk aficionados. Here Maceo tells his own warm and astonishing story, from his Southern upbringing to his career touring the world and playing to adoring fans. Maceo has long called his approach to the saxophone "2% jazz, 98% funky stuff." Now, on the eve of Maceo's 70th birthday, in prose as lively and funky as his saxophone playing, here is the definitive story of one of the funkiest musicians alive.
In 2006, the contemporary American Pentecostal movement celebrated its 100th birthday. Over that time, its African American sector has been markedly influential, not only vis-a-vis other branches of Pentecostalism but also throughout the Christian church. Black Christians have been integrally involved in every aspect of the Pentecostal movement since its inception and have made significant contributions to its founding as well as the evolution of Pentecostal/charismatic styles of worship, preaching, music, engagement of social issues, and theology. Yet despite its being one of the fastest growing segments of the Black Church, Afro-Pentecostalism has not received the kind of critical attention it deserves. Afro-Pentecostalism brings together fourteen interdisciplinary scholars to examine different facets of the movement, including its early history, issues of gender, relations with other black denominations, intersections with popular culture, and missionary activities, as well as the movementOCOs distinctive theology. Bolstered by editorial introductions to each section, the chapters reflect on the state of the movement, chart its trajectories, discuss pertinent issues, and anticipate future developments. Contributors: Estrelda Y. Alexander, Valerie C. Cooper, David D. Daniels III, Louis B. Gallien, Jr., Clarence E. Hardy III, Dale T. Irvin, Ogbu U. Kalu, Leonard Lovett, Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., Cheryl J. Sanders, Craig Scandrett-Leatherman, William C. Turner, Jr., Frederick L. Ware, and Amos Yong
Acting as both investigative journalist and irreverent critic, Ben Westhoff journeys across the southern United States in a small Hyundai to document the phenomenon of southern hip-hop. The exclusive interviews with the genre's prominent players take many forms--watching rappers "make it rain" in a Houston strip club, partying with The 2 Live Crew's Luke Campbell, visiting the gritty neighborhoods where T. I. and Lil Wayne grew up, and speaking with DJ Smurf and Ms. Peachez along the way. The celebrated but dark history of Houston's Rap-A-Lot Records, the lethal rivalry between Atlanta's Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy, and the venerable Scarface's memories from time in a mental institution are just a few of the textured and tricky subjects explored.
by Elijah Wald
Call Number: PN6231 .N5 W35 2012
Publication Date: 2012-06-01
Following his groundbreaking explorations of the blues and American popular music in Escaping the Delta and How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll, Elijah Wald turns his attention to the tradition of African American street rhyming and verbal combat that ruled urban neighborhoods long beforerap: the viciously funny, outrageously inventive insult game called "the dozens." At its simplest, the dozens is a comic concatenation of "yo' mama" jokes. At its most complex, it is a form of social interaction that reaches back to African ceremonial rituals. Whether considered vernacular poetry, verbal dueling, a test of street cool, or just a mess of dirty insults, the dozenshas been a basic building block of African-American culture. A game which could inspire raucous laughter or escalate to violence, it provided a wellspring of rhymes, attitude, and raw humor that has influenced pop musicians from Jelly Roll Morton to Ice Cube. Wald explores the depth of the dozens' roots, looking at mother-insulting and verbal combat from Greenland to the sources of the Niger, and shows its breadth of influence in the seminal writings of Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston; the comedy of Richard Pryor and GeorgeCarlin; the dark humor of the blues; the hip slang and competitive jamming of jazz; and most recently in the improvisatory battling of rap. A forbidden language beneath the surface of American popular culture, the dozens links children's clapping rhymes to low-down juke joints and the most modernstreet verse to the earliest African American folklore. In tracing the form and its variations over more than a century of African American culture and music, The Dozens sheds fascinating new light on schoolyard games and rural work songs, serious literature and nightclub comedy, and pop hits from ragtime to rap.
Country music's debt to African American music has long been recognized. Black musicians have helped to shape the styles of many of the most important performers in the country canon. The partnership between Lesley Riddle and A. P. Carter produced much of the Carter Family's repertoire; the street musician Tee Tot Payne taught a young Hank Williams Sr.; the guitar playing of Arnold Schultz influenced western Kentuckians, including Bill Monroe and Ike Everly. Yet attention to how these and other African Americans enriched the music played by whites has obscured the achievements of black country-music performers and the enjoyment of black listeners. The contributors to Hidden in the Mix examine how country music became "white," how that fictive racialization has been maintained, and how African American artists and fans have used country music to elaborate their own identities. They investigate topics as diverse as the role of race in shaping old-time record catalogues, the transracial West of the hick-hopper Cowboy Troy, and the place of U.S. country music in postcolonial debates about race and resistance. Revealing how music mediates both the ideology and the lived experience of race, Hidden in the Mix challenges the status of country music as "the white man's blues." Contributors. Michael Awkward, Erika Brady, Barbara Ching, Adam Gussow, Patrick Huber, Charles Hughes, Jeffrey A. Keith, Kip Lornell, Diane Pecknold, David Sanjek, Tony Thomas, Jerry Wever
Author Mark Beaumont met and interviewed Jay Z in 2009 and many quotes from that interview feature in this biography. Also included are interviews with Kanye West, Chris Martin, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Damon Dash, Dr Dre, Rick Rubin and many others. This fascinating book details his early life, his father abandoning him, his accidental shooting of his brother and his delving into cocaine dealing. The book then moves on to the launch of his Roc-A-Fella record label and his subsequent album releases including the platinum selling In My Life and Hard Knock Life as well as his alleged involvement in the stabbing of record executive Lance Riviera, the trial and his three year probation sentence. Details how he became the CEO of Def Jam Recordings (one of his first signings was Rihanna). Also examines his high-profilerelationship and marriage to Beyoncé Knowles. Features an in-depth look into his entrepreneurial skills from launching his own Rocawear clothing and accessories line, his New York club 40/40 and his rumoured investments in real estate and football clubs and brings the story right up to date to include his performance at Glastonbury in 2008, the Haiti aid single Stranded, his concerts with Eminem, his Watch The Throne EP release with Kanye West and his supporting U2 on their World Tour.
Despite its extraordinary popularity and worldwide influence, the world of rap and hip hop is under constant attack. Impressions and interpretations of its meaning and power are perpetually being challenged. Somewhere someone is bemoaning the negative impact of rap music on contemporary culture. In In the Heart of the Beat: The Poetry of Rap, bestselling author and scholar Alexs Pate argues for a fresh understanding of rap as an example of powerful and effective poetry, rather than a negative cultural phenomenon. Pate articulates a way of "reading" rap that makes visible both its contemporary and historical literary values. He encourages the reader to step beyond the dominance of the beat and the raw language and come to an appreciation of rap's literary and poetic dimensions. What emerges is a vision of rap as an exemplary form of literary expression, rather than a profane and trendy musical genre. Pate focuses on works by several well-known artists to reveal in rap music, despite its penchant for vulgarity, a power and beauty that is the heart of great literature.
The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles
by Bob Gluck
Call Number: ML419 .D39 G58 2016
Publication Date: 2016-01-11
Miles Davis's Bitches Brew is one of the most iconic albums in American music, the preeminent landmark and fertile seedbed of jazz-fusion. Fans have been fortunate in the past few years to gain access to Davis's live recordings from this time, when he was working with an ensemble that has come to be known as the Lost Quintet. In this book, jazz historian and musician Bob Gluck explores the performances of this revolutionary group--Davis's first electric band--to illuminate the thinking of one of our rarest geniuses and, by extension, the extraordinary transition in American music that he and his fellow players ushered in. Gluck listens deeply to the uneasy tension between this group's driving rhythmic groove and the sonic and structural openness, surprise, and experimentation they were always pushing toward. There he hears--and outlines--a fascinating web of musical interconnection that brings Davis's funk-inflected sensibilities into conversation with the avant-garde worlds that players like Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane were developing. Going on to analyze the little-known experimental groups Circle and the Revolutionary Ensemble, Gluck traces deep resonances across a commercial gap between the celebrity Miles Davis and his less famous but profoundly innovative peers. The result is a deeply attuned look at a pivotal moment when once-disparate worlds of American music came together in explosively creative combinations.