Hey, Charleston!: The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band

Overview

What happened when a former slave took beat-up old instruments and gave them to a bunch of orphans? Thousands of futures got a little brighter and a great American art form was born.

In 1891, Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins opened his orphanage in Charleston, South Carolina. He soon had hundreds of children and needed a way to support them. Jenkins asked townspeople to donate old band instruments—some of which had last played in the hands of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War....

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Overview

What happened when a former slave took beat-up old instruments and gave them to a bunch of orphans? Thousands of futures got a little brighter and a great American art form was born.

In 1891, Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins opened his orphanage in Charleston, South Carolina. He soon had hundreds of children and needed a way to support them. Jenkins asked townspeople to donate old band instruments—some of which had last played in the hands of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War. He found teachers to show the kids how to play. Soon the orphanage had a band. And what a band it was.

The Jenkins Orphanage Band caused a sensation on the streets of Charleston. People called the band's style of music "rag"—a rhythm inspired by the African-American people who lived on the South Carolina and Georgia coast. The children performed as far away as Paris and London, and they earned enough money to support the orphanage that still exists today. They also helped launch the music we now know as jazz.

Hey, Charleston! is the story of the kind man who gave America "some rag" and so much more.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/07/2013
Founded in Charleston at the turn of the century by Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins, a pastor and former slave determined to give homeless African-American children a better life, the Jenkins Orphanage Band created an irresistible hybrid of martial music and the “raggedy, rattly sound” of “rag” from Geechee/Gullah culture, and incubated the talents of men who helped shape American jazz. A trip to New York City launched a global craze for both the music and the dancing that often accompanied it—the “twisting and twirling and tapping their toes, knocking their knees, and flapping their arms”—soon known as the Charleston. Rockwell (Truck Stop) keeps the story focused and lively, with just enough social and emotional framing (Reverend Jenkins “was always looking for a way to turn bad into good” is a recurring refrain) to add resonance. Bootman’s (Love Twelve Miles Long) sepia tones and military blues beautifully evoke a distant time, but his pictures are at their most fun when he shows how the band brought people everywhere to their feet. Ages 7–11. Author’s agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Nov.)¦
Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
In 1891, seeking to meet a great need, Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins established an orphanage in Charleston, S.C. Needing to provide for the hundreds of children in his care, Jenkins asked residents of the town to donate old musical instruments. After teachers were located to teach the children how to play, a band was formed. Soon they were performing on the streets of the city, adding their own special interpretation of Geechee and Gullah rhythms as well as dance movements. The band began earning substantial money after they took their unique music to New York City. Soon everyone was happily dancing with the band to what became known as the Charleston. As the band's fame spread, the musicians traveled to Europe and delighted audiences in Paris and London. Enough funds were earned to keep the orphanage running to this day. This account of how "rag" music began in a southern orphanage should delight youngsters whether they hear it read aloud at storytime or read it on their own. The wonderful full-color illustrations are in perfect accord with the text. While this is a perfect story to share during Black History Month, it should also be enjoyed year round. Librarians, definitely place this title on the "first purchase" list. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
A concerned pastor and a rich musical tradition come together to play an important role in the growth of jazz. In the late 1800s, Rev. Jenkins, born a slave in South Carolina and later orphaned, came across a group of abandoned children. He established an orphanage in Charleston for these children and others like them, all African-Americans. Jenkins led them in singing to drown out the noise from a prison next door. As money was scarce, he came up with the idea of teaching the children to play marching-band music using forgotten Civil War brass instruments. Many of the children, born into the Gullah or Geechee traditions of the islands off South Carolina, enjoyed playing "rag" music. They incorporated this rhythm into their performances and danced while playing. Success followed, with trips to New York, where enthusiastic crowds urged the band to play "Charleston." They performed at Theodore Roosevelt's inauguration and for King George V of England, sailing home in dangerous waters after World War I erupted. Some of the young men grew up to play with Ellington and Basie. Rockwell relates her tale in a fast-paced narrative that will hopefully encourage readers to turn into listeners. Bootman's emotive, full-bleed artwork provides a lively accompaniment. A notable look at a little-known piece of jazz history. (author's note, selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-10)
Kirkus Reviews
A concerned pastor and a rich musical tradition come together to play an important role in the growth of jazz. In the late 1800s, Rev. Jenkins, born a slave in South Carolina and later orphaned, came across a group of abandoned children. He established an orphanage in Charleston for these children and others like them, all African-Americans. Jenkins led them in singing to drown out the noise from a prison next door. As money was scarce, he came up with the idea of teaching the children to play marching-band music using forgotten Civil War brass instruments. Many of the children, born into the Gullah or Geechee traditions of the islands off South Carolina, enjoyed playing "rag" music. They incorporated this rhythm into their performances and danced while playing. Success followed, with trips to New York, where enthusiastic crowds urged the band to play "Charleston." They performed at Theodore Roosevelt's inauguration and for King George V of England, sailing home in dangerous waters after World War I erupted. Some of the young men grew up to play with Ellington and Basie. Rockwell relates her tale in a fast-paced narrative that will hopefully encourage readers to turn into listeners. Bootman's emotive, full-bleed artwork provides a lively accompaniment. A notable look at a little-known piece of jazz history. (author's note, selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761355656
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/1/2013
  • Pages: 1
  • Sales rank: 780,513
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 1040L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Rockwell is an author and illustrator of more than one hundred works of fiction and nonfiction for children over a career that spans six decades. She is the author of Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth, which won a Coretta Scott King honor for R. Gregory Christie's illustrations. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at www.annerockwell.com. Colin Bootman is the award-winning illustrator of many books for children, including Young Frederick Douglass, Almost to Freedom, and The Steel Pan Man of Harlem—which he also wrote. He and his books have received numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, the Schneider Family Book Award, and the Teacher's Choice Award. Born in Trinidad, Mr. Bootman came to the United States at the age of seven and found that art helped him cope with his new environment. Once a young artist himself, Mr. Bootman hopes his art can encourage children to follow their dreams and embrace their passions.

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