Books

“Someone Has to Care” – Christian Scharen

Someone Has to Care: The Roots and Hip-Hop’s Prophetic Calling. By Christian Scharen. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books. 130 pp. (paperback). Illustrations, Notes, Bibliography. ISBN 978-1-5326-1217-6. $18.00 By Robert M. Marovich As Christian Scharen observes in his new book, Someone Has to Care, the titles of albums by hip-hop group The Roots exist on three levels: as a barometer of The Roots’ personal and creative state, as a commentary on the current status of hip-hop as an expressive art, and as a socio-political critique of longstanding oppression and suffering. Employing the same rule of three, Scharen, author and pastor of St. ...

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Q&A with JGM Founder on “Peace Be Still”

JGM founder and historian Bob Marovich talks about his new book, Peace Be Still: How James Cleveland and the Angelic Choir Created a Gospel Classic, during a Q&A hosted by the publisher, University of Illinois Press. The book is available for pre-order and will be released officially on December 14, 2021. https://www.press.uillinois.edu/wordpress/qa-with-robert-m-marovich-author-of-peace-be-still/

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“Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus! Photographs from the Sacred Steel Community” by Robert L. Stone (book review)

Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus! Photographs from the Sacred Steel Community. By Robert L. Stone. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. 192 pp. (hardcover). Illustrations, Extended Photo Captions, Notes. ISBN 978-1-4968-3150-7. $40.00 By Robert M. Marovich With Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus! Florida historian and folklorist Robert Stone presses into place the final puzzle piece of his years’ long audio-visual portrayal of the House of God and Church of the Living God steel guitar tradition. Having written Sacred Steel (University of Illinois Press, 2010), the definitive history of these Holiness churches’ distinctive music ministry, and produced, with support from ...

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The Best is Yet to Come – James C. Birdsong Jr.

The Best is Yet to Come: A Testimony of One Young Man’s Redemption. By James C. Birdsong Jr. T & J Publishers, 2017. 362pp. (softcover). ISBN 978-0-9994121-7-6 By Bob Marovich Too often, memoirs written by members of famous families paint a rosy portrait of their lives. Not so in James C. Birdsong Jr.’s earnest The Best is Yet to Come. He is unashamed to talk about the travails he and his family have endured. Indeed, he hopes his tale will help inspire others struggling under similar circumstances. James comes from the Birdsong family that has provided the world such luminaries ...

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Moving Forward and Facing the Future in the Black Church Worship Experience – Dr. Antonia M. Arnold-McFarland

Moving Forward and Facing the Future in the Black Church Worship Experience. By Dr. Antonia M. Arnold-McFarland. EFlat Major Productions, 2018. 155pp. (softcover). Appendices. ISBN 9-781732-336506 By Bob Marovich An engineer by training, Dr. Antonia Arnold-McFarland earned certification in Six Sigma, a process improvement technique developed at Motorola in 1980. As a practitioner and consultant in music and worship arts ministry, she had an idea: what if the principles of Six Sigma and the A3 Methodology could be applied to improve the effectiveness of African American church music ministries? After all, people are people, whether in the church or on ...

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Soul Survivor: A Biography of Al Green (Jimmy McDonough)

Soul Survivor: A Biography of Al Green. By Jimmy McDonough. Da Capo Press, 2017. 432pp. (hardcover). Index, illustrations. ISBN 978-0-306-82267-4. $28 By Bob Marovich “This was a very challenging project,” journalist and biographer Jimmy McDonough concedes in the acknowledgements of Soul Survivor, his biography of Al Green. You can almost hear McDonough heave a sigh of relief after writing that statement. Chronicling the life of such a defiantly inscrutable entertainer and minister as Green would be difficult enough with the protagonist’s participation. Instead, McDonough had to proceed essentially without Bishop Green’s blessing, relying for his information on decades of existing taped ...

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The Gaithers and Southern Gospel: Homecoming in the Twenty-First Century – Ryan P. Harper

The Gaithers and Southern Gospel: Homecoming in the Twenty-First Century. By Ryan P. Harper. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2017. 326 pp. (printed casebinding). Index. ISBN 978-1-4968-1090-8. $65 By Bob Marovich Rarely have television programs or video franchises received the microscopically detailed analysis that ethnographer Ryan P. Harper gives the Gaither Homecomings in The Gaithers and Southern Gospel. Despite its title, The Gaithers and Southern Gospel is neither a history of Bill and Gloria Gaither nor of southern gospel, although the narrative references significant facts in the histories of both. Instead, it is an examination of how the popular ...

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Living the Life I Sing: Gospel Music from the Dorsey Era to the Millennium

Living the Life I Sing: Gospel Music from the Dorsey Era to the Millennium (First Edition) Alphonso Simpson Jr. and Thomas A. Dorsey, III, eds. Paperback; 180 pages, with illustrations (Cognella Academic Publishing) https://titles.cognella.com/living-the-life-i-sing-9781634875493.html By Bob Marovich Living the Life I Sing is a fascinating collection of essays from prominent scholars on the creation, development, and impact of African American gospel music. Although gospel’s acknowledged father, Thomas A. Dorsey, is the central figure of the book, he is not its sole concern.  The book covers a variety of facets of gospel music from its West African roots to today. A ...

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Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900

Various Artists Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900 Archeophone Records (release date: September 30, 2016) www.archeophone.com By Bob Marovich There is something quite thrilling about hearing voices singing and speaking from more than a century ago. Those crackly, trebly vowels and consonants, like faraway voices over an old telephone, preserved on cylinder and discs like insects in amber, are just as hauntingly fascinating today as they must have been rousing for those who listened to them in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Hearing the voices of historic figures on record brings them back to life. Richard Martin and ...

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Don Frost: Silk Suits and Raggedy Underwear

Don Frost Silk Suits and Raggedy Underwear NBA and NFL Players Publishing, Inc. (246 pages, illustrations) http://donfrostbook.com By Bob Marovich If books on gospel music remain woefully underrepresented in the pantheon of American music writing, the number of volumes chronicling the white Southern Gospel experience is smaller still. Not if Don Frost can help it. The founder and host of the popular Music City Gospel Showcase television program and convention, and member of the Frost Brothers Quartet, has released Silk Suits and Raggedy Underwear.  The book doubles as his memoir and a biography of the Frost Brothers Quartet. Organized in 1924, ...

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