From Publishers Weekly
The duo responsible for Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats pay homage to a grand and quickly changing neighborhood. Local teachers, doctors, lawyers and journalists tell their own stories, as do artists, musicians, hatmakers, dry cleaners, literary agents, fencers, barbers, chess players and street vendors, illustrated by 52 on-site portraits. While the photos are largely conventional, many of the personal histories deserve their own books. Brett Cook-Dizney, a graffiti artist, briefly explains the "apprenticeship structure" of graffiti, "where someone usually shows you technique and style and then you fill in their lines for a while." Sy Oumoukoulshome, a hair braider, relates the honored place that braiders hold in her home country. "It's a tradition that some families in Senegal specialize in doing braids. They call them griots. It goes from generation to generation.... In Senegal, hair braiders have respect from people. But not in Harlem." The sequencing of stories and portraits is thoughtfully done. In one sequence, Kevin Taylor, the producer of Black Entertainment Television, precedes Robert Garland, a choreographer at Dance Theatre of Harlem, followed by Noah Stewart, who broke tradition by singing a spiritual at his Juilliard audition. He is in turn followed by Alice McClarty, a singer for the Sounds of Glory Choir, who herself precedes saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Marberry visited Harlem as a young boy and became fascinated with the legendary neighborhood, a community that figures prominently in African American history and culture as the site of the renaissance that marked the growing awakening and definition of the African diaspora in the U.S. He teamed with photographer Cunningham to interview Harlem residents to get a view of the history of the neighborhood and of its present, filled with anxiety about urban decay and gentrification, and what changes may be on the horizon for this most famous of black American communities. Their subjects are a cross section of Harlemites who capture the vibrancy and diversity of the neighborhood: a 51-year-old real estate broker, a 45-year-old historian, ministers and activists, artists, store owners, teachers, a Japanese gospel singer, an Olympic fencer, a choreographer, and a few newcomers, part of the gentrification trends. More prominent residents include Calvin O. Butts, pastor of the famous Abyssinian Baptist Church, and Isabel Powell, Adam Clayton Powell's first wife. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved