Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl

Rashod Ollison. Beacon, $25.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8070-5752-0
In this soulful memoir, pop music critic Ollison (who writes for the Dallas Morning News and Jet) testifies to the powerful ways that music provides the soundtrack underneath the harmony and discord of his life. Raymind Ollison’s father introduces his son to the music of Millie Jackson, Al Green, and Betty Wright as they’re visiting one of the father’s lovers. Looking back on those early years, Ollison recognizes that much of the “down-home soul” he heard during those years reflected his parents’ tumultuous marriage, with Aretha Franklin’s music grounding his mother during his parents’ divorce. Soul music guides Ollison through the many crises in his life; when he’s eight, he imagines that Michael Jackson will one day come and whisk him away from his family problems. He’s a shy child and taunted by his schoolmates, but his teacher recognizes Ollison’s potential and introduces him to Langston Hughes’s poetry; from that moment, “a door had been blown open, and his imagination begins to expand and grow.” Through the hurt and sorrow of a broken family, and a difficult childhood, Ollison recalls that music remained “his cocoon, the place where he found the most coherence and delicious engagement.” Ollison’s moving memoir captures and colorfully reveals the ways that music can soothe the pain. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/07/2015
Release date: 01/26/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8070-8897-5
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