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I See the Rhythm of Gospel Hardcover – December 6, 2010
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Reprising the vibrancy of their Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner, I See the Rhythm (1998), Wood and Igus celebrate African-American gospel music along its historical transit from the Middle Passage to 21st-century “Holy Hip Hop.” Double spreads explore gospel’s evolution through slavery, the post-Reconstruction migrations north and west, gospel quartets on radio and vinyl and much more. There’s a whole lot going on, including the rhyming verse, a timeline of cultural and historical events and captions elucidating the accompanying paintings. The color-saturated art pulses with symbolic patterns and raw emotion. Display type alters with each page turn, and borders and spot art construed from facing paintings complete each teeming layout. Gospel’s symbiosis with Christian spirituality---and the artist’s own deep devotion---are key: One painting, both compelling and disturbing, depicts the crucified Christ nailed to a slave ship’s joists, flanked by men bound and contorted by chains. An accompanying CD contains five songs representing selected musical eras, with the Golden Gate Quartet and---spectacularly---Mahalia Jackson, the clear standouts. (foreword, quotations, suggested song list) Kirkus Reviews 12/2010 (Kirkus)
This comprehensive, energetic book (which includes a CD) addresses the gospel community’s passionate endeavor to engage ever-changing political and cultural influences while remaining true to its cultural roots. (Publisher’s Weekly, 1/2011)
Top Customer Reviews
The flip of each page presents readers with vivid paintings that illustrate the aspect of history being told. For example, Plantation Sundays, a time of worship for slaves, who sneaked to clearings in the wood to worship God after the master goes to church. The painting shows slaves, hands raised in praise, performing a ring shout—dancing in a circle while singing spirituals.
Historical events of African-American history, along with the date these events occurred are sprinkled throughout the book.
The birth of gospel music arises from the pain and injustice of slavery. The author explores the various styles of gospel music: Pentecostal style, blues and jazz rhythms blended in religious hymns, gospel quartets, rap style, when the performer speaks poetically with the beat of the music, famous female gospel singers, gospel choirs, and contemporary gospel music.
A CD containing a variety of gospel music selections accompanies the book, which enables readers to hear the range of gospel music from its traditional roots to the modern upbeat tempo found in gospel music today. I See the Rhythm of Gospel by Toyomi Igus is a treat for the eyes, mind, and ears, and an excellent source for children to learn about the history African Americans and gospel music.
Many famous names are here - Mahalia Jackson, Thomas Dorsey, Shirley Caesar, Andrae Crouch - as are the old gospel quartets - the Soul Stirrers, the Dixie Hummingbirds. Along with the musicians are others we know of, from Nelson Mandela to Rodney King, from Harriet Tubman to Toni Morrison. More importantly, however, are probably the millions of nameless people whose faces have been lost to history. The ones who struggled and died, the ones who marched and sang, the ones who simply put food on the table for their children. These are the ones honored by artist Michelle Wood in the beautiful, colorful, profound artwork that graces these pages.
I was touched by the dignity and hope pervading these pages; I was educated about pieces of African American history I hadn't yet heard. This is a wonderful book for children and adults alike, and worthy reading by people of all ages as we all seek to understand our unique yet shared history.
A bonus CD is supplied with the book, containing five representative gospel songs, from the classic "Wade in the Water" by the Golden Gate Quartet, up through the Holy Hip-Hop of Cross Movement's "I Love You."
The music, along with the lyrical text and the lush, bright, powerful artwork, all combine to help us see the rhythm of gospel, and the way it has woven itself into the history of African Americans in the United States.
(With thanks to Zondervan for supplying a complimentary copy for the purposes of This review)
I thank Zonderkidz for sending these ARCs for review purposes.