If your children are old enough to
be really into rock and roll, and it's one of those summer days when even their
favorite sounds have gotten a little boring, you might want to have two books
about the subject on hand: Shake, Rattle, and Roll by Holly George-Warren and
Shout, Sister, Shout! by Roxane Orgill.
Shout, Sister, Shout! is for more serious young historians of American popular
music. In it, Roxane Orgill explores in some detail the lives of a dozen of
the remarkable women who have been animating it for the past century. She begins
with such early chanteuses as Sophie Tucker, May Rainey, and Bessie Smith --
who all made unique contributions to our cultural history, and who all added
their own special touches to the repertoire of what we today refer to as the
Diva. Vaudeville super-star Sophie Tucker, for example, publicly chastized her
first big-time New York audience for arriving late and interrupting her singing.
That was pretty nervy for a woman in 1908. So was the renowned blues singer,
Ma Rainey, who toured the country in the 1920s in an enormous and expensive
private bus and wore an elaborate dress that weighed in at more than twenty
pounds. Shout, Sister, Shout! travels a fascinating road up to the present and
to contemporary singers like Bette Midler, Madonna, and Lucinda Williams. It's
a wonderful, important tribute. And both of these books are sure to start some
new, old sounds playing around your home this summer
Copyright © 2002 John Cech
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