The Early Years of Rhythm and Blues: Focus on Houston

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9780892632732: The Early Years of Rhythm and Blues: Focus on Houston

Benny Joseph made his living as a professional photographer in Houston's black community during the crucial decades from the 1950s through the early 1980s, when the amplified pulse of rhythm and blues underscored the social changes sweeping the nation. Joseph photographed everything from parades and teen hops to impassioned speeches by civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thurgood Marshall. Under contract to the pioneering black entrepreneur Don Robey, owner of the Duke and Peacock recording labels, Joseph photographed many of the popular recording artists of the day, including B.B. King, Mahalia Jackson, Buddy Ace, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and Della Reese. With over 120 unique black and white photographs, this is a must have for all rhythm and blues enthusiasts, and a valuable historical resource for photography collectors. Writer, photographer, and filmmaker Alan Govenar met Joseph in 1984 when he was closing his studio in Houston's Third Ward and worked with him over the next five years, sifting through thousands of negatives to identify and contextualize his most compelling images of this remarkable era.

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About the Author:

Alan Govenar is a writer, a photographer, a filmmaker, and the president of Documentary Arts, a non-profit organisation he founded in 1985 that is committed to presenting new perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. He is the co-creator of the off-Broadway musical Blind Lemon Blues and the author of numerous books. He lives in Dallas, Texas, and New York City.

Review:

"In the early 1950s, when Houston was the home of this country's most vital rhythm and blues, Benny Joseph was hired by Don Robey to photograph the rising stars of his two record labels, Duke and Peacock. Artists such as Bobby (Blue) Bland, Clarence (Gatemouth) Brown, Johnny Ace and Junior Parker (whose 'Mystery Train' inspired a young Elvis Presley) were making a new kind of Southern blues that would strongly influence susequent pop, soul, and gospel sounds. The Early Years of Rhythm & Blues is a guide to their universe. As the text by Alan Govenar, a writer and film maker, explains, Mr. Joseph's black-and-white photographs also documented the beginnings of the civil rights movement in Houston's black community. Alongside images of B.B. King, Mahalia Jackson and Della Reese are photographs of Martin Luther King Jr. preaching, the future United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall exhorting a congregation under a painting of a supplicant Jesus, and an N.A.A.C.P. meeting beneath a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Haunting, heartbreaking and always life-affirming The Early Years of Rhythm & Blues is a triumph of the spirit and a celebration of the soul." -- Leo Sacks --The New York Times, September 22, 1991

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Govenar, Alan B., Joseph, Benny
Published by Rice Univ Pr (1990)
ISBN 10: 0892632739 ISBN 13: 9780892632732
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Alan B. Govenar; Benny Joseph
Published by Rice Univ Pr (1990)
ISBN 10: 0892632739 ISBN 13: 9780892632732
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