Black Stars: African American Musicians

Eleanora E. Tate

Much of American music really started out as African American music. Gospel, spirituals, ragtime, blues, jazz, rock and roll, and hip-hop?all were born in Black neighborhoods, created by African Americans who drew on their culture, their aspirations, and their talent. In this spirited collection, you’ll meet more than thirty African Americans who have forever changed America’s musical landscape. Jazz composers and stride pianists, concert singers and horn players, gospel and rap artists?all overcame obstacles of racism, segregation, and personal tragedy to lead the evolution of American music. Their inspirational stories, from before the Civil War to the present, reveal how:
Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, born a slave, became the first Black concert singer. She was known around the world as the “African Nightingale” and the “Black Swan” for her amazing voice.W. C. Handy conquered poverty to become a great cornet player and the composer of the “Memphis Blues”, the first popular blues song to be published.
Paul Robeson, a son of a former slave, became an All-American football player, his class valedictorian, a Columbia law graduate, a human rights activist, and a world-famous interpreter of spirituals. Duke Ellington, elegant painter turned pianist, composed thousands of songs, led an award-winning orchestra, and influenced every major jazz, blues, and big band musician today. Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” survived personal tragedy to win more Grammies than any other woman and became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Full of tales of courage, talent, and determination, this information-packed book illuminates these and other unforgettable musical stars, including Marian Anderson, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Queen Latifah.

Cloth 24.95

Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist, James Jamerson (with 2 CD’s)

Alan “Dr. Licks” Slutsky

James Jamerson was a phenomenon. His bass lines were the “hooks” that were at least half the reason billions of songs sold. There are partial discographies that list 150 hits of Motown singles (30 of which were #1 hits), and partial discographies that include 180 albums or CD’s. About 70% of Jamerson’s performances went to the top of the R&B charts. Some of the singers he backed were: Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations, Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Tammy Terrel, Kim Weston, Mary Wells, The Jackson Five, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, The Contours, The Marvelletts, The Velvelettes, Brenda Holloway, Marv Johnson, David Ruffin, The Originals, Shorty Long, Marvin Gaye, Edwin Starr, Boz Scags, Bob Dylan, Tom Jones, The Osmunds, Dionne Warwick, Shirley Bassey, Maria Muldar, The Fifth Dimension, The Sylvers, Tina Marie, Rick James, The Dramatics, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Marlena Shaw, Charo, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Curtis Mayfield, Jackie Wilson, Johnny Mathis, The Hues Corporation, Billy Preston, Jerry Butler, Sammy Davis, Jr., Fontella Bass, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Taylor, John Handy, Hugo Montenegro, Yusef Lateef, Charles Wright and the Watts 103 Street Band, Quincy Jones, Billy Ekstine and Bobby Darin.   James Jamerson laid the track for the soul train

Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson has an introduction by Paul McCartney. The book contains photos, interviews of The Funk Brothers, Motown singers, arrangers and composers, and transcriptions of some of his bass lines that are played by several great bass players (including Chuck Rainey and Marcus Miller) on the 2 CD’s that come with the book. The Grammy Award winning documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, (based on this book) has narration written by Ntosake Shange and includes performances by Chaka Kahn, Gerald Levert, Meshell Ndegeocello, Michael Harper, Joan Osborne, Bootsie Collins, Montell Jordan and The Funk Brothers.

Paperback with 2CD’s $35.00
Documentary with 2DVD’s $15.00

Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition (with CD ROM)

Dr. Patricia Liggings Hill, General Editor

Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition counts the rings in the family tree of Black people. Like a sequence of echoes, the rings of the tree are the responses of Africans adapting to the call of America. The technique of a concentric reverberating history adds cohesion and rhythm to the information.The core beginning of Call and Response compares African and African American slave proverbs, work songs, spirituals, praise poems, sermons, prayers, song structure and folktales. The central ring echoes Africanisms into the printed works of poetry, slave narratives, letters, essays and oratory with the chapter Response: Black Literary Declarations of Independence. The spirituals and secular songs of slavery in the South are followed by the abolition voices in the North and include writings by Fred Douglass and Frances Harper. The Social Protest in Prose chapter includes words of Nat Turner, Harriet Jacobs, Martin Delaney, Charlotte Grimke and William Wells Brown. The Call for the Ideal of Freedom chapter includes spirituals Git on Board Little Children and Go Tell It on the Mountain; Work, Badman and Prison Songs like John Henry and Stagolee are followed with rural blues, ragtime, folk sermons and preacher tales.

The tree of the Black aesthetic is then extended with great stories by Charles Chesnutt and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the politics of Booker T. Washington and Julia Foote, the activism of Ida B. Wells and W. E. B. Du Bois, the lyrics of classical blues of W. C. Handy, Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday and Robert Johnson. Call and Response includes gospel, jazz, swing, boogie woogie, more “bad man” and prison songs, and toasts (including Shine and the Sinking of the Titanic and The Signifying Monkey).

That outlines only the first 800 pages! The span of the remaining 1200 pages includes writings by (to name a few) Marcus Garvey, Alain Locke, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullin, Zora Neal Hurston, Jean Toomer, Sterling Brown, Richard Wright and Chester Himes. The musical response to that layer of time includes The Twist and Charlie Parker, the poetic: Melvin Tolson, Robert Hayden, Dudley Randal, Margaret Walker and Gwendolyn Brooks, theater: Alice Childress and Lorraine Hansberry, and novelists: Ralph Ellison, John O. Killens, and James Baldwin. Response to the 60’s and 70’s call were lyrics sung by B. B. King, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Howling Wolf, Ray Charles, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and, of course, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? The spirituals rocked steady with Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around and Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. The hood variations of the songs were sung by Queen Latifah, Ice T, Gil Scott Heron, Eric B. and Public Enemy who were responding to the conscience called from Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokley Carmichael and Angela Davis.

Poetry rings true with Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, Nikki Givanni, Mari Evans, Maya Angelou, June Jordan, Ishmael Reed and Al Young. Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Terry McMillan, Askia Toure, August Wilson, Ana Deavere Smith, Rita Dove respond to our needs and close out this volume which ends with Randall Kenan’s The Foundations of the Earth.

This is a great study of Black history. In addition to being the best anthology of Black writing, Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition is the legacy of artful living.

Paper 117.40