Always the Queen: The Denise LaSalle Story

Univ. of Illinois. (Music in American Life). May 2020. 256p. ISBN 9780252084942. pap. $19.95. MUSIC
Between 2010 and 2017, blues scholar Whiteis interviewed his friend LaSalle (1939–2018); piecing together the transcripts, he created a sort of autobiography of the singer, songwriter, and producer. LaSalle’s music spanned decades and genres, from gospel and disco to soul-blues and rap and hip-hop. Her story starts in Mississippi, where her family worked as sharecroppers. As a teen, she moved to Chicago, signed recording contracts with various labels, released a career-boosting hit titled “Trapped by a Thing Called Love,” and established a production company. Following blues legend Koko Taylor’s death in 2009, many passed Taylor’s title, “Queen of the Blues,” on to LaSalle, redefining her career. Speaking in a down-home vernacular, LaSalle is by turns rebellious, raunchy, worshipful, and tender. Readers will feel like they’re listening to a woman nearing the end of her career share the lessons she learned on her musical journey.
VERDICT LaSalle’s recollections ramble a bit, and not all memories are necessarily complete. Still, this is the only LaSalle autobiography available, so libraries that focus on American music will want to consider.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month