The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ’n’ Roll . By Preston Lauterbach.
In this terrific popular history, music journalist Lauterbach resurrects a thriving African American subculture that nurtured rock ’n’ roll, vividly portraying the famous (B. B. King, Little Richard) and the unsung.
Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters. By Donald Bogle.
A multitalented performer, Waters made history in Harlem nightclubs, on Broadway, and in Hollywood movies, struggling with sexism and racism and living a tempestuous life, which Bogle expertly chronicles.
Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter. By Patricia Albers.
Albers draws on the nuanced power of Joan Mitchell’s abstract paintings to create the first comprehensive biography of this dazzlingly independent artist, who held her own in the macho New York art world.
John Huston: Courage and Art. By Jeffrey Meyers.
By balancing the flamboyant life with the landmark works of legendary movie director John Huston, veteran biographer Meyers reveals how a flawed man produced nearly flawless and indelible films.
A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians—from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between. By Stuart Isacoff.
Isacoff offers an encyclopedic history of the beloved instrument and profiles such masters of the keyboard as Beethoven, Gershwin, and Oscar Peterson in this big slice of heaven for piano lovers.
The Paper Garden: An Artist (Begins Her Life’s Work) at 72. By Molly Peacock.
Esteemed poet Peacock chronicles the remarkable, many-chaptered life of English artist Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–88) and marvels over her “flower mosaiks,” entwining aspects of her own life with Delany’s to evocative effect.
Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark. By Brian Kellow.
Kellow matches extensive research with acute perception in his sensitive and definitive biography of Pauline Kael, America’s foremost, and most controversial, movie critic.
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. By Susan Orlean.
The first to delve into the amazing story of Rin Tin Tin, “the archetypal dog hero,” Orlean tells, with insight and vigor, a far-reaching tale of war, creative intrepidness, and the ascent of film and television.
33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day. By Dorian Lynskey.
Music critic Lynskey offers a compelling, comprehensive look at 33 protest songs, including “We Shall Overcome,” that span seven decades, five continents, and the labor, civil rights, antiwar, and gay rights movements.
Willie Dixon: Preacher of the Blues. By Mitsutoshi Inaba.
Musicologist Inaba offers a groundbreaking and satisfying biography of songwriter and performer Willie Dixon as a multifaceted blues innovator and essential presence in American music.