Throughout my school career in middle school, high school and college I enjoyed singing in various choirs. What’s unique about singing, unlike playing an instrument, is that you don’t have to know how to read music. That skill set has eluded me, yet I was, and still am, able to positively contribute to choir. Through singing, I was exposed to different genres of music that I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to had I not had the pleasure of singing in so many different choirs.
March 16 – 22 marks the 6th annual International Teach Music Week. During the third week in March, free music lessons are offered by musicians, music schools and music stores for new students of all ages. The goal is to expose people to music for educational, therapeutic and social benefits. For more information, visit TeachMusicWeek.org.
I’m always looking for ways to explore new music. Did you know that you have access to tons of songs through Hoopla and Freegal? You can borrow 5 titles per service each month, and you can even keep the ones you get on Freegal forever!
Here are some biographies and autobiographies of musicians that are available at GPL:
Unfaithful Music by Elvis Costello
Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink provides readers with a master’s catalogue of a lifetime of great music. Costello reveals the process behind writing and recording legendary albums like My Aim Is True, This Year’s Model, Armed Forces, Almost Blue, Imperial Bedroom, and King of America. He tells the detailed stories, experiences, and emotions behind such beloved songs as “Alison,” “Accidents Will Happen,” “Watching the Detectives,” “Oliver’s Army,” “Welcome to the Working Week,” “Radio Radio,” “Shipbuilding,” and “Veronica,” the last of which is one of a number of songs revealed to connect to the lives of the previous generations of his family.*
Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn
In this, the definitive biography of an American legend, Robert Hilburn conveys the unvarnished truth about a musical superstar. Johnny Cash’s extraordinary career stretched from his days at Sun Records with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to the remarkable creative last hurrah, at age 69, that resulted in the brave, moving “Hurt” video.
As a music critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn knew Cash throughout his life: he was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed both Cash and his wife June Carter just months before their deaths. Drawing upon a trove of never-before-seen material from the singer’s inner circle, Hilburn creates an utterly compelling, deeply human portrait of a towering figure in country music, a seminal influence in rock, and an icon of American popular culture. Hilburn’s reporting shows the astonishing highs and deep lows that marked the journey of a man of great faith and humbling addiction who throughout his life strove to use his music to lift people’s spirits.
Miles, the Autobiography by Miles Davis
Universally acclaimed as a musical genius, Miles Davis was one of the most important and influential musicians in the world. Here, Miles speaks out about his extraordinary life.
Miles: The Autobiography, like Miles himself, holds nothing back. He speaks frankly and openly about his drug problem and how he overcame it. He condemns the racism he encountered in the music business and in American society generally. And he discusses the women in his life. But above all, Miles talks about music and musicians, including the legends he has played with over the years: Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Trane, Mingus, and many others.
The man who gave us some of the most exciting music of the twentieth century here gives us a compelling and fascinating autobiography, featuring a concise discography and thirty-two pages of photographs.
Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism by Thomas David Brothers
Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism blends cultural history, musical scholarship, and personal accounts from Armstrong’s contemporaries to reveal his enduring contributions to jazz and popular music at a time when he and his bandmates couldn’t count on food or even a friendly face on their travels across the country. Thomas Brothers combines an intimate knowledge of Armstrong’s life with the boldness to examine his place in such a racially charged landscape. In vivid prose and with vibrant photographs, Brothers illuminates the life and work of the man many consider to be the greatest American musician of the twentieth century.
Decoded by Jay-Z
Decoded is a book like no other: a collection of lyrics and their meanings that together tell the story of a culture, an art form, a moment in history, and one of the most provocative and successful artists of our time.
Gold Dust Woman: A Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis
Gold Dust Woman gives “the gold standard of rock biographers” (the Boston Globe) his ideal topic: Nicks’ work and life are equally sexy and interesting, and Davis delves deeply into each, unearthing fresh details from new, intimate interviews and interpreting them to present a rich new portrait of the star. Just as Nicks (and Lindsay Buckingham) gave Fleetwood Mac the “shot of adrenaline” they needed to become real rock stars – according to Christine McVie – Gold Dust Woman is vibrant with stories and with a life lived large and hard.
*Book blurbs are taken from GoodReads.com