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Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country and Western Music
     

Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country and Western Music

by Holly George-Warren, Laura Levine (Illustrator)
 

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Discover the surprising beginnings and humble origins of the charismatic pioneers who helped shape the country-and-western scene into the influential musical empire it is today.

Included among this collection of legends are Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, and more unforgettable people who changed the face of music forever!

Overview

Discover the surprising beginnings and humble origins of the charismatic pioneers who helped shape the country-and-western scene into the influential musical empire it is today.

Included among this collection of legends are Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, and more unforgettable people who changed the face of music forever!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Levine's mixed-media art harmonizes perfectly with these vignettes. . . . Fans of any age will enjoy this paean to roots music."  —Horn Book

"Levine’s folk-art paintings, created with flat colors and occasional use of pattern, are quite distinctive."  —Booklist
 
"Concise but thorough, this picture book discusses the evolution of a distinctive American music style through a chronicle of its biggest stars. . . . Colorful, stylized, folk art of the performers and/or their instruments is included."  —School Library Journal

"The perfect primer for young music lovers...Homespun, folksy paintings that in their simplicity, charm and naivete...provide the perfect accent to George-Warren's informative, no-frills prose."  —Bookpage

"Levine supplies a bright, naiive, vintage-framed portrait of each artist...There's considerable visual appeal to draw in readers and sufficient hints to send readers out to rrack down the tunes."  —Bulletin
 
"After a few pages, you'll want to break out the fiddles, guitars and mandolins, and make your own country music."  —New York Post

Publishers Weekly
George-Warren and Levine, whose Shake, Rattle and Roll profiled early rock-n-rollers, appeal to country fans in this collection of kitschy painted portraits and mini-biographies. The book condenses the history for a young audience and for older readers who know the stories but want Levine's portfolio on the shelf with the old LPs. A concise introduction chronicles the evolution of folk ballads into 1920s "hillbilly" music collected by "talent scouts" (and folklorists), then into mainstream "C&W" on the radio and at dances. "Vocalists sang about whiskey, broken marriages, and other tragedies of modern life" in the '40s, writes George-Warren, whose one-page bios of the musicians mention but don't linger on the hard luck and rampant sinnin' among Opry aspirants. (Similarly, she downplays the powerful influences of gospel and black performers.) Levine's mixed-media folk-art paintings, each presented in an antique wooden frame, provide the collection's raison d' tre; if they don't entirely resemble their subjects, they capture the down-home mood of the rootsy music and the inimitable style of, say, Tammy Wynette's big blond hairdo. Between the opening act (the Carter Family) and the closer (Johnny Cash), Levine's luminaries include bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe, tragic heroes Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, singer-guitarist Kitty Wells and picker/grinner Buck Owens. Yet without a CD library, one cannot imagine the Carter Family's "unique harmonizing," "Singing Brakeman" Jimmie Rodgers's yodel, tenor vs. bass singing or the niceties of fiddles, steel guitars or electric jamborees. This album rates a couple of rhinestones, but appeals to those already familiar with that good ole Nashville music. Ages 6-10. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carol Raker Collins
Seventeen biographies of America's most influential country & western singers are paired with full-page portraits. The folk art paintings of mixed media in vintage frames will appeal to both young and old. Yet, the subject seems more appropriate for young adults or adults who have some familiarity with these musicians and their music. One exception is Gene Autry, whose biggest fans were kids (although those kids are now adults). An introduction traces the history of European folk songs brought to America in the 1800s, regenerated in eastern backwoods as "hillbilly" music, and finally transported westward to become "Western swing" or other honky-tonk variations. The rural and cowboy combination was to be called country and western. Inauspicious origins of country and western singers—who were cotton pickers, medicine show entertainers, drugstore clerks, or teenage mothers—did not prevent these talented performers from exploding onto the music scene. Starting with the Carter Family, country music's first famous group, the entries include a singing brakeman, a king of country who is not Elvis, a singing cowboy, a coal miner's daughter, a man in black, and the king and queen of broken hearts. A Chicago radio station introduced listeners to Saturday night barn dances in 1924, and some thirty years later artists like Patsy Cline were striking gold on the pop charts. From the Grand Ole Opry to Carnegie Hall to Hollywood, these pioneers rose to superstardom or put their timeless stamp on the evolving blend of country and western music. The book cries out for a CD accompaniment.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Concise but thorough, this picture book discusses the evolution of a distinctive American music style through a chronicle of its biggest stars. After a lively introduction to the history of Country & Western music from its beginnings in 19th-century folk songs to the present, the author highlights 20th-century artists from the Grand Ole Opry, honky-tonks, western swing, and rock and roll. Each artist or group receives a full-page treatment opposite an illustration. The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Gene Autry, Ernest Tubb, and Bill Monroe are all featured for their performances or their introduction of unique sounds: guitar leads, hillbilly yodels, Hollywood films, electric guitar, and the string-band blues and gospel mix of the Kentucky Bluegrass sound. Bob Wills and his country swing music, Kitty Wells's empathy for women's issues, Hank Williams's pop chart hits, Patsy Cline's Nashville Sound with small orchestras and background singers, Buck Owens's Bakersfield Sound of rockin' Country & Western, the solo sounds of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, and Johnny Cash all receive individual entries that define their talents, personal history, and professional accomplishments. Colorful, stylized, folk art of the performers and/or their instruments is included.-Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A companion volume to Shake, Rattle and Roll: The Founders of Rock and Roll (2001) presents brief biographical sketches of some 18 of the greats of Country and Western music, from the Carter Family to Johnny Cash. George-Warren's engaging text packs a lot of information into a small space, detailing in broad arcs the movements of a given performer's career, including a song title or two, and indicating how that particular performer influenced those who followed. Although some of the dicier aspects of some performers' lives are shown the light of day-Hank Williams's drug use, George Jones's alcoholism-these are given only glancing attention, the focus firmly on the music. Levine's bright, folk-arty illustrations are particularly suited to her subject here, presenting performers in homespun fashion. While the text sometimes gets a little heavy on superlatives-"most successful," "greatest," "top-selling"-with the effect that the sketches are not as individual as one might hope, this is, on the whole, a well-presented selection that will give interested children a solid introduction to the form and its shapers. (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618191000
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/10/2006
Edition description:
None
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.12(d)
Lexile:
1210L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer, editor, producer, and music consultant. She has contributed to more than two dozen books about rock and roll, including The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock, and The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. She’s also written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Journal of Country Music, and Rolling Stone. Ms. George-Warren lives in upstate New York with her family. Visit her online at www.hollygeorgewarren.com.

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