Representing Black Music Culture

Then, Now, and When Again?
Representing Black Music Culture: Then, Now, and When Again? Scarecrow. Oct. 2011. c.352p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780810877863. $35. MUSIC
Banfield (Africana studies/music & society, Berklee Coll. of Music) has a singular perspective on the recent history of African American popular music. As a professor, composer, jazz guitarist, and recording artist, he has witnessed the rise and (he argues) the fall of black music from the early 1960s to the present. The format of the book is also distinctive, as Banfield collects essays, interviews with many key musical figures, and selections from several years of his personal journal. In doing so, he paints a vivid picture of the development of and trends in the music that have led up to the current rap scene and pressure on artists to become publicity sensations rather than bona fide musicians.
VERDICT Rather than scholarly and dry, this thought-provoking, readable book asks valid questions and portrays a once thriving, creative musical community that has somewhat lost its way. Recommended for all African American music collections.
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