Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Honky-Tonk Heroes & Hillbilly Angels
Honky-Tonk Heroes & Hillbilly Angels: the Pioneers of Country & Western Music, words by Holly George-Warren, pictures by Laura Levine, Houghton Mifflin, 2006
I was a fan of Warren and Levine's first collaboration, Shake, Rattle and Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll so I was ever so pleased to see them take up this music. Holly George Warren certainly has the bona fides to write about the subject.
A book like this reminds me of how much fun a school librarian can have with lesson plans. I can imagine using this to teach "Biography" and sharing these musicians' music along with their stories. Kids today sing "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" but have they ever heard of Gene Autry? Shouldn't they experience the musical virtuosity of Bill Monroe?
Warren has a one page biography on each artist with important dates and milestones from their life and career. She begins the book, appropriately, at the beginning, with a profile on the Carter family.
Laura Levine has painted a full page portrait of each musician with their name worked into the art work. Each member of the Carter family is designated along with "The First Family of Country Music." Bill Monroe is titled "The Father of Bluegrass" and Loretta Lynn's "The Coal Miner's Daughter" appears in the smoke plume coming from a small cabin. Each painting is featured in a period frame so you feel as if you are looking at a grouping of family pictures.
All the greats are included: Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubbs, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Tammy Wynette and more.
I think it would be so much fun during Rodeo time here in the Lone Star State, to turn on some Western (we call it Texas) Swing and share the story of Bob Wills.
Holly George-Warren Website