PERFORMING ARTS

Move on Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power

Univ. of Chicago. Sept. 2019. 272p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226653037. pap. $20. MUSIC
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Chicago is music. More to the point, Chicago is blues and soul music. It’s impossible to name a rock musician yesterday or today who didn’t take something from the sounds created in the city during its mid-20th-century heyday. Music scholar Cohen (Aretha Franklin’s “Amazing Grace”) examines Chicago’s unique flavor of soul music—musicians such as Curtis Mayfield, the Chi-Lites, Minnie Riperton, and Earth, Wind and Fire—and their broader social, cultural, and economic impact on African American communities. Other authors have written about these artists, but Cohen shows how their music intertwines with black culture and connects all the way up to the political sphere. More broadly, he shows how Chicago through music became an important force in the nationwide fight for civil rights and the raising of black consciousness. The significance of Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” alone to the civil rights era cannot be overstated.
VERDICT Cohen marries scholarly erudition with sincere musical affection in this intriguing look at Chicago soul.

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