Sunday, June 30, 2013

Black Music Month: Books with Black Musicians

June is Black Music Month, a month to celebrate African-American music traditions and artists in all genres. We're on it.


Stringz by Michael Wenberg. Jace's mother is constantly moving him from one town to another. His only constant is his cello. When they move to Seattle, Jace was he usually does-- plays on the street in hopes of making some money. One listener throws in a business card-- he's a high level celle teacher and sees a promise in Jace and wants to take him to the next level. Can Jace do it? Will his mother just move again?

Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi. After his mother's remarriage, Miles moves in with his father. His father concentrates on jazz, while Miles focuses on football, making the team and dreaming of playing pro. When Miles gets to the Superdome though, it's not for football, but rather taking shelter after Katrina hits.

DJ Rising by Love Maia. Marley is an aspiring DJ whose career is just starting to take off, but he has to balance his life-blood of music with a demanding school and his mother's addiction to meth.


Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel. The day Callie plays her father's piano, the biggest dust storm yet comes and takes her mother away. When Callie goes after her, she discovers her mother's mortal, but her long-missing father is a prince of the faerie Unseelie court. So Callie is a princess, but also a pawn in a political game she doesn't understand. The differences between the UnSeelie and Seelie courts in this book are racial, and faeries love music-- so for Callie it's jazz and ragtime. The first in a trilogy, follow it with Golden Girl.

Doing My Own Thing by Nikki Carter. Sunday's career is taking off-- not only is her record a hit, but she has her own reality show, too. But the whiplash is also taking off as people who are supposed to be supporting her would rather take her down. The third in the Fab Life series, start with Not A Good Look.

Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers. Saxophonist Mark wants to spend all summer practicing with his jazz band, but he has to get a job, so he becomes an assistant at The Crisis, Harlem's premeir magazine for the 'New Negro.' This lets him meet lots of big shots, but he also gets on the bad side of the wrong people.


Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper. This verse novel is a fictionalized biography of Billie Holiday's early life, when her name was still Eleanora Fagin.

The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur. This is a collection of rapper Tupac's poetry from the late 80s and early 90s-- before he was famous. In addition to his powerful words, this book pairs the poems with reproductions of the originals so you can read it in his own writing and see his editing process.

Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson and Marc Aronson. This one is a little young and doesn't *quite* fit, but it's so awesome, I had to include it. Historian Nelson uses the clues he finds in the lyrics to find the true story behind "John Henry." It examines several aspects of American history, the development of Rock and Roll, and the research process.

What books would you recommend for Black Music Month?

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