Daphne Brooks on Truth-Telling MusicHistorians in the News
tags: racism, African American history, music, popular culture, Protest
We know their songs, not so much what they were going through, those Black women artists who wrote and sang so many anthems of American life: Bessie Smith’s “Gimme a Pigfoot” and Mamie Smith’s “Crazy Blues”; stars beyond category like Ethel Waters singing “Shake that Thing” in the ’20s; then Gospel hits like “His Eye Is On the Sparrow,” on tour in the 1950s with evangelist Billy Graham. Billie Holiday gave the world “Strange Fruit.” Nina Simone went deep with “Sinnerman.” Eartha Kitt was sly and sexy with a French twist on “C’est Si Bon.” Mahalia Jackson sang Duke Ellington’s spiritual “Come Sunday.” These are “the sisters who made the modern” in Daphne Brooks’s monumental inquiry into the souls, the minds, the experience that added up to more than entertainment.
“From Bessie Smith to Beyoncé” is the inescapable bumper-sticker on this hour of historical, musical radio. We’re talking about a century of Black female singers in the churn of gender, race, class, region, technology, and celebrity that drive the culture and the music biz. Daphne Brooks is our archivist and our authority, professor of African American Studies at Yale. Liner Notes for the Revolution is the title of her opinionated compendium of performances we all sort of know. And there’s nothing at all shy about Daphne Brooks’s argument that runs cover to cover through her book, subtitled The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound. In short, she saying Black women singers are our truth-tellers, about love and work, color, caste, God, and man, and woman.
comments powered by Disqus
- After a Mock Slave Auction and a Resolution Against Racism, Battle Against "Critical Race Theory" in a Small Town
- Revisiting the 1976 Chowchilla School Bus Kidnapping
- Opinion: Students Need to Learn About the Haters and the Helpers of our History
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Ties the History of Housing Discrimination to Reparations
- Spain Pledged Citizenship to Sephardic Jews. Now They Feel Betrayed
- Revisiting Portland a Year after the Rioting
- The Unmaking of Biblical Womanhood: Prof. Beth Allison Barr's Historical Challenge to Evangelical Gender Roles
- Lynn Burnett Project to Examine Examples of White Antiracism in U.S. History
- Haiti, Cuba, and the History of U.S. Involvement in the Caribbean (Virtual Event July 29)
- The Past and Present of the U.S. Postal Service