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Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review: Candace Allen - Soul Music.

(Review by Lance).
The name Candace Allen was familiar although I couldn't remember from where until, all of a sudden, staring out at me from my bookshelf there it was, Valaida by Candace Allen! This was a factional take on the life of trumpet player Valaida Snow. I recall it was a good read and, as such, I looked forward to Ms Allen's  second foray into print.
Soul Music is a fascinating insight into the life of a black American girl, her enthusiasm for many kinds of music - the Great American Songbook that her parents loved, the jazz her father, a friend of Miles Davis, preferred, her own leanings to black American Soul and ultimately a love of classical music no doubt nurtured during her marriage to conductor Simon Rattle.

Her quest in this well written and at times compelling book is; Can classical music change lives? In Soul Music, the novelist and former activist of African descent asks whether the pitched battles between ‘our’ music and ‘their’ music of her youth are alive among young people engaged in music study today. She follows the beat of music to places where different cultures meet.
Her personal journey takes her to the streets of London and Scotland, Venezuela, where the Sistema scheme has offered thousands of young people a route out of the ghetto mentality through virtuoso musical training, bringing global fame to the charismatic conductor Gustavo Dudamel; to the Middle East, and Daniel Barenboim's East-West Divan Orchestra in which young Israelis and Palestians play side by side; and to Sistema in Soweto, and a pioneering opera project in Kinsasha.
There are many incidents along the way which all go to make this a worthwhile and thought provoking read.
Candace Allen is a novelist and was the first African-American female member of the Directors Guild of America. Race and music are an integral part of her life,  as was political activism at Harvard University and, recently, for Obama. She has lived in London since 1994.
Lance.
Soul Music - the Pulse of Race and Culture by Candace Allen is published by Gibson Square.

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