As we celebrate African-American Music Appreciation Month this June, another black legend has left the scene. Last year, we noted the passing of “the King of Blues” – B.B. King. This year, it is Prince, the master of many genres, who is gone. Prince Rogers Nelson died April 21, leaving a huge legacy and a vault full of music yet unreleased.
Let the music live on and let us remember him as we observe this month. President Jimmy Carter first designated June as Black Music Month in a proclamation signed in 1979, and President Barack Obama renamed it African-American Music Appreciation Month in 2009 and continued the tradition. The month has been celebrated with festivals, concerts and other observances.
For educators in search of materials to teach the history of black music, or for people who just want to read more about it, DiverseBooks.net has many titles about black music throughout the world, all available at significant discounts from their list price.
Black Diva of the Thirties: The Life of Ruby Elzy, by David E. Weaver, $25.20, (List Price: $28), University of Mississippi Press, ISBN: 9781578066513, pp. 208.
Ruby Pearl Elzy, born in 1908 in Pontotoc, Miss., became a leading operatic soprano. She was preparing for her debut in the title role of Verdi’s “Aida” when she died in 1943 at the age of 35 during a routine surgery. She would have been one of the first black artists to appear in grand opera.
Elzy studied at Rust College, Ohio State University and the Juilliard School in New York City. She sang in the original production of “Porgy and Bess,” in the movie “The Emperor Jones” with Paul Robeson, and in the film “The Birth of the Blues” with Bing Crosby and Mary Martin. She had performed at the White House, the Apollo Theater and the Hollywood Bowl.
[an incorrect cover photo appears on this following book, but there is also a picture of him with the text]
Blues Mandolin Man: The Life and Music of Yank Rachell, by Richard Congress, with foreword By David Evans, $19.80, (List price: $22), University of Mississippi Press, ISBN: 9781578063345, pp. 208.
This is the first biography of Yank Rachell, whose mandolin playing style influenced other performers and delighted audiences. Rachell was born into a sharecropping family in 1910 in Tennessee. He learned several musical instruments, first recorded for Victor in Memphis in 1929 and toured internationally in his lifetime.
The Guitar in America: Victorian Era to Jazz Age, by Jeffrey J. Noonan, $45, (List Price: $50), University of Mississippi Press, ISBN: 9781934110188, pp. 256.
The author traced the guitar’s transformation from a parlor instrument to a mainstay in jazz and popular music. He tells the story of musicians who led a movement in the late nineteenth-century to introduce guitar, banjo and mandolin playing into major musical venues. The author is a professor of music, a guitarist and writer.