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Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia (w/CD accompaniment).

[website] Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia (w/CD accompaniment), by Bil Carpente. Backbeat Books, (600 Harrison St., San Francisco, CA 94107), 2005. 515 pp., $24.95.

There is something about gospel music that speaks to the soul. Maybe it is because many gospel artists have had hard lives, and their stories are poured out in the words of their songs, giving a glimpse of deeply felt emotions.

Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia contains more than 100 interviews that reveal many of these stories for the first time. It chronicles the careers of more than 650 gospel artists and personalities from 1900 to the present day. It is an easy-to-read reference book for anyone interested in gospel musicians and music. It contains an overview, alphabetical biographical entries of hundreds of gospel singers and groups, a glossary of gospel terms, trivia tidbits, lists of the all-time best-selling gospel recordings, gospel songs that crossed over to R&B charts, and Grammy, Dove and Stellar gospel award winners. With a writing style that is honest, insightful and straightforward, author Bil Carpenter is one of America's preeminent music journalists. Recommended recordings are given at the end of many entries, for those interested in hearing the music of these musicians.

The CD accompaniment with the same title, gives a wonderful sampling of the gospel songs and groups included in the book. A listener unfamiliar with gospel music should listen to the CD before reading the stories. With the exception of the beginning of the first cut on the CD, the sound quality on the CD is very good. It is puzzling that Horace Boyer, gospel specialist who wrote How Sweet the Sound: The Golden Age of Gospel (1995), is not included in this collection, except in the "Selected Bibliography." Since the book has no footnotes, it is impossible to know exactly what contribution Boyer's work made to this encyclopedia.

After reading a sampling of stories, such as Mahalia Jackson, Mary Lou Williams, Aretha Franklin, Maya Angelou, Ray Charles and Marian Anderson, I found them fascinating and was motivated to listen to more of this special genre of American music. This book is an excellent addition to the literature that preserves America's great gospel music heritage. Reviewed by Mryna Capp, NCTM, Seattle, Washington.

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Author:Capp, Mryna
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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