Celebrate Africa-American Music Appreciation Month with Dover!

Zydeco players

African-American Music Appreciation Month is an annual celebration of the rich history and contributions of such musical categories as spirituals, gospel, ragtime, blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and hip-hop and rap to music played by musicians in this country and throughout the world. 
President Jimmy Carter decreed June to be Black Music Month on June 7, 1979. In 2009, President Barack Obama gave the commemoration its current name. In 2016, Obama noted that African-American music has helped the country “to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.”

Book titles about African-Americans have changed as usage has changed: acceptable terms from the past have fallen into disuse and disfavor. Many Dover books have titles that reflect the standards of another era. All of the books were written by people with a keen interest in the subject.

Dr. John W. Work

American Negro Songs: 230 Folk Songs and Spirituals, Religious and Secular, by Dr. John W. Work. (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc.: 1940 ed.)
Musicologist John W. Work of Fisk University compiled this classic collection of spirituals, blues, work songs and social and dance songs. Dr. Work discusses the origins of black American folk music and the influence of slavery and African music and culture on religious and secular songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Steal Away to Jesus,” “John Henry,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and “Rock of Ages.” An invaluable annotated collection of songs for singers, musicians and readers who are seeking a sourcebook of black American folk music. The collection includes the complete words and music to 230 songs.

Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History

Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History, by David A. Jasen and Trebor Jay Tichenor. (New York, reprint of Seabury Press: 1978 ed.) A highly praised study of the history of ragtime music and its principal composers. Both authors are themselves composers and performers of ragtime music, as well as historians and critics. 800 rags are featured, including such classics as “Maple Leaf Rag,” “The Entertainer,” “Ragging the Scale,” and Red Onion Rag.” The book also contains profiles of 48 composers such as Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and Fats Waller, as well as 100 photographs. “Rags and Ragtime tells it all. There’s a lot here I didn’t know in pictures, music, and words.” — Eubie Blake

Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz as Told by the Men Who Made It, by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff. (New York: Rhinehart and Company: 1956 ed.)
Veteran jazz writer Nat Hentoff and veteran music director and producer Nat Shapiro combine their skills and experience to interview such famous jazz musicians as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Mezz Mezzrow, and others who recall the birth, growth, and changes in jazz during its first five decades. The book is a lively firsthand account, including memories of jazz music and its ties to the Storyville section of New Orleans, Chicago’s South Side, jam sessions in Kansas City, musical gatherings and venues in Harlem, and the rise of jazz on the West Coast during and after World War II. “Music is your own experience, your thoughts, and your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” –Charlie Parker.

Best-Loved Negro Spirituals

Best-Loved Negro Spirituals: Complete Lyrics to Songs of Faith, by Nicole Beaulieu Herder and Ronald Herder. (Dover Original) The anthology features complete lyrics to 178 songs of faith, including “Down by the Riverside,” “Deep River,” “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “Roll, Jordan Roll,” and “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” “The Negro spirituals rank with the great folk music of the world, and are among the loveliest of chanted prayers.” –Natalie Curtis-Burlin.

First Book of Blues

A First Book of Blues: 16 Arrangements for the Beginning Pianist, by David Dutkanicz. (Dover Original) Easy-to-play renditions of popular blues songs, including traditional ballads and lyrics like “Careless Love” and “St. James Infirmary,” as well as classic numbers by W.C. Handy and Jelly Roll Morton, including “St. Louis Blues,” “Joe Turner Blues,” and “The Hesitating Blues.”

Negro Folk Songs

Negro Folk Songs, by Natalie Curtis Burlin. (Dover Publications, Inc., 2001, from editions originally published by G. Schirmer, Inc., 1918–19)
Natalie Curtis Burlin was an American musicologist who did field research into traditional music by Native American tribes, as well as African Americans, in the early 20th century. Negro Folk Songs is a selection of traditional plantation slave songs collected by the author at Virginia’s Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, which was an organization dedicated to the education of former slaves. The collection includes nineteen spirituals, as well as sections devoted to work-songs and play-songs. Selections are notated for quartet singing with piano accompaniment. The book has introductions that describe the social contexts of the people and their music.

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