Synopses & Reviews
". . . extraordinarily far-reaching. . . . highly accessible."
"No one has written this way about music in a long, long time. Lucid, insightful, with real spiritual, political, intellectual, and emotional grasp of the whole picture. A book about why music matters, and how, and to whom."
-Dave Marsh, author of Louie, Louie and Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story
"This book is urgently needed: a comprehensive look at the various forms of black popular music, both as music and as seen in a larger social context. No one can do this better than Craig Werner."
-Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University
"[Werner has] mastered the extremely difficult art of writing about music as both an aesthetic and social force that conveys, implies, symbolizes, and represents ideas as well as emotion, but without reducing its complexities and ambiguities to merely didactic categories."
-African American Review
A Change Is Gonna Come is the story of more than four decades of enormously influential black music, from the hopeful, angry refrains of the Freedom movement, to the slick pop of Motown; from the disco inferno to the Million Man March; from Woodstock's "Summer of Love" to the war in Vietnam and the race riots that inspired Marvin Gaye to write "What's Going On."
Originally published in 1998, A Change Is Gonna Come drew the attention of scholars and general readers alike. This new edition, featuring four new and updated chapters, will reintroduce Werner's seminal study of black music to a new generation of readers.
Craig Werner is Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin, and author of many books, including Playing the Changes: From Afro-Modernism to the Jazz Impulse and Up Around the Bend: An Oral History of Creedence Clearwater Revival. His most recent book is Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul.
"Owing to her formidable command of interdisciplinary thought, Royster (DePaul Univ.) brings a thorough understanding of the multiple layers of meaning in music in this excellent, well-written treatise that situates uniquely "different" voices within black popular music as both vibrant and vital to its future. ... Highly Recommended."
"Roysters reclaiming of eccentricity is a productive move that locates queerness and blackness in alliance against the structures of whiteness and (hetero)normativity. ... Sounding Like a No-No
participates in the construction of a black imaginary that embraces its past
in all its complexities, from violence to resistance, and multiple forms of embodiment and speech." ---QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking
A Change is Gonna Come is a celebration of cultural tradition and an illustration of the way it can embrace us all.
Black popular music and offbeat performance, from Eartha Kitt to Meshell Ndegeocello
Sounding Like a No-No traces a rebellious spirit in post-civil rights black music by focusing on a range of offbeat, eccentric, queer, or slippery performances by leading musicians influenced by the cultural changes brought about by the civil rights, black nationalist, feminist, and LGBTQ movements, who through reinvention created a repertoire of performances that have left a lasting mark on popular music. The book's innovative readings of performers including Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, Stevie Wonder, Eartha Kitt, and Meshell Ndegeocello demonstrate how embodied sound and performance became a means for creativity, transgression, and social critique, a way to reclaim imaginative and corporeal freedom from the social death of slavery and its legacy of racism, to engender new sexualities and desires, to escape the sometimes constrictive codes of respectability and uplift from within the black community, and to make space for new futures for their listeners. The book's perspective on music as a form of black corporeality and identity, creativity, and political engagement will appeal to those in African American studies, popular music studies, queer theory, and black performance studies; general readers will welcome its engaging, accessible, and sometimes playful writing style, including elements of memoir.
About the Author
Francesca T. Royster is Professor in the Department of English at DePaul University. She is the author of Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon.