Blues: Its Birth and Growth

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Brenda Moses-Allen
The Library of African-American Arts and Culture is a new series dedicated to presenting different aspects of African American cultural heritage. These two selections discuss widely-acclaimed facets of black America. Blues offers a historical overview of the music genre, tracing its roots to the music of Africa. The author details the development of the blues from the "call and answer" work songs of African slaves to the electric blues rock and roll of today's musicians, black and white. Elmer highlights several of the early blues pioneers, such as W. C. Handy, Bessie Smith, and Leadbelly, among others, and their contributions to the art form. Folk, classic, Chicago blues, and their impact on the careers of American and British rock musicians are also depicted. Vivid photographs and colorful graphics heighten the excitement and intensity of the subject matter. The African-American Kitchen is a combination history and cookbook. The author begins by describing the types of foods eaten by Africans in their homelands and how those foods were adapted to slave life in America. Erdosh chronicles the importance of the slave cooks on the large plantations with a thriving social life. Spices and fried foods and their significance in the African American diet are also discussed. Definitions for Southern, Soul, Cajun, and Creole food are supplied along with accompanying recipes. Recommendations for today's health conscious diet and a short list of mail-order food stores are included. Mouth-watering photographs enhance the book's appeal. Both texts are short, easy-to-read books suitable for younger middle school students looking for ways to extend multicultural or African American studies units. Black-and-white photographs, prints, and maps add historical relevance to the topics. Other titles include African-American Quilting and Crafts: The Warmth of Tradition, Jazz Tap: From African Drums to American Feet, Rap and Hip Hop: The Voice of a Generation, and Jam! The Story of Jazz Music. Note: This review was written and published to address The African-American Kitchen: Food for Body and Soul and Blues: Its Birth and Growth. Glossary. Index. Illus. Photos. Further Reading. Discography. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P M (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8).
Children's Literature - Judy Chernak
Music that comes from and gets into your very bones: the blues. Its history is traced from "Before the Blues" where it originated amongst the peoples of West Africa as chants, work songs, and celebratory music, accompanied by native instruments. The importance of generations of oral transmission is stressed as this rich tradition, carried with the slave trade into America, developed into the call-and-response, holler and wail and rasping elements so distinctive to the blues. As the book progresses, we learn how these African elements influenced all subsequent development of American popular music: spirituals, folk and classic blues, Chicago and urban blues, rock and rap. Loaded with photographs of musicians, nearly all black, this book is an eye-opener for those unfamiliar with where the music of today began and pays tribute to the talent and drive of those who played and sang from their heart and soul until we all became part of "The Birth of the Blues."
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-These informative and interesting titles approach their topics from an African-American perspective. Blues traces the origins of the music and its influence on American society, as well as on jazz and rock 'n' roll. Kitchen discusses the origins and evolution of soul food as part of a shared heritage going back hundreds of years. Many recipes are included. The readable texts make the respective subjects come alive. The artistic photographs and reproductions, in color and in black and white, appear on almost every page and enliven the texts without overwhelming them.-Eunice Weech, M. L. King Elementary School, Urbana, IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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