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Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl
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Published:
Beacon Press 2016
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Description
A coming-of-age memoir about a young boy in rural Arkansas who searches for himself and his distant father through soul music
Growing up in rural Arkansas, young Rashod Ollison turned to music to make sense of his life. The dysfunction, sadness, and steely resilience of his family and neighbors was reflected in the R&B songs that played on 45s in smoky rooms.
Steeped in the sounds, the smells, the salty language of rural Arkansas in the 1980s, Soul Serenade is the memoir of a pop music critic whose love for soul music was fostered by his father, Raymond. Drafted into the Vietnam War as a teenager, Raymond returned a changed man, “dead on the inside.” After his parents’ volatile marriage ended in divorce, Rashod was haunted by the memory of his itinerant father and his mama’s long forgotten “sunshine smile.” For six-year-old Rashod, his father’s record collection—the music of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, and others—provided solace, coherence, and escape.
Moving nine times during his childhood, Rashod constantly adjusted to new schools and homes with his two sisters, Dusa and Reagan, and his mother, Dianne. Resilient and tough, while also being distant and punitive, she worked multiple jobs, striving “to make ends wave at each other if they couldn’t meet.” He spent time with his acerbic mother’s mother, Mama Teacake, and her family’s living-out-loud ways, which clashed with his father’s family—religious, discreet, and appropriate—where Rashod gravitated to Big Mama and Paw Paw, his father’s parents.
Becoming aware of his same-sex attraction, Rashod felt further isolated and alone but was encouraged by mentors in the community who fostered his intelligence and talent. He became transformed through discovering the writing of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, and other literary greats, and these books, along with the soulful sounds of the 1970s and 80s, enabled him to thrive in spite of the instability and harshness of his childhood.
In textured and evocative language, and peppered with unexpected humor, Soul Serenade is an original and captivating coming-of-age story set to an original beat.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/26/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780807057537
ASIN:
B00X2E2MAM
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Rashod Ollison. (2016). Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl. Beacon Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Rashod Ollison. 2016. Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl. Beacon Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Rashod Ollison, Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl. Beacon Press, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Rashod Ollison. Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl. Beacon Press, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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0143f4a8-686e-ced6-25d9-f0bb84603cac
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Needs Update?:
No
Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 16:20:34
Date Updated:
Dec 06, 2020 02:42:47
Last Metadata Check:
Dec 04, 2022 07:59:50
Last Metadata Change:
Dec 04, 2022 07:59:50
Last Availability Check:
Dec 04, 2022 07:59:52
Last Availability Change:
Dec 26, 2018 21:49:23
Last Grouped Work Modification Time:
Dec 04, 2022 03:24:48

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creators
      • role: Author
      • fileAs: Ollison, Rashod
      • bioText: Rashod Ollison (1977–2018) was an award-winning pop music critic and culture journalist. He was a staff critic and feature writer for the Dallas Morning News, Philadelphia Inquirer, Journal News (Westchester, New York), Baltimore Sun, and Virginian-Pilot. He also wrote a music column for Jet magazine. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Ollison lived in Virginia Beach.
      • name: Rashod Ollison
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title
Soul Serenade
fullDescription
A coming-of-age memoir about a young boy in rural Arkansas who searches for himself and his distant father through soul music
Growing up in rural Arkansas, young Rashod Ollison turned to music to make sense of his life. The dysfunction, sadness, and steely resilience of his family and neighbors was reflected in the R&B songs that played on 45s in smoky rooms.
Steeped in the sounds, the smells, the salty language of rural Arkansas in the 1980s, Soul Serenade is the memoir of a pop music critic whose love for soul music was fostered by his father, Raymond. Drafted into the Vietnam War as a teenager, Raymond returned a changed man, “dead on the inside.” After his parents’ volatile marriage ended in divorce, Rashod was haunted by the memory of his itinerant father and his mama’s long forgotten “sunshine smile.” For six-year-old Rashod, his father’s record collection—the music of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, and others—provided solace, coherence, and escape.
Moving nine times during his childhood, Rashod constantly adjusted to new schools and homes with his two sisters, Dusa and Reagan, and his mother, Dianne. Resilient and tough, while also being distant and punitive, she worked multiple jobs, striving “to make ends wave at each other if they couldn’t meet.” He spent time with his acerbic mother’s mother, Mama Teacake, and her family’s living-out-loud ways, which clashed with his father’s family—religious, discreet, and appropriate—where Rashod gravitated to Big Mama and Paw Paw, his father’s parents.
Becoming aware of his same-sex attraction, Rashod felt further isolated and alone but was encouraged by mentors in the community who fostered his intelligence and talent. He became transformed through discovering the writing of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, and other literary greats, and these books, along with the soulful sounds of the 1970s and 80s, enabled him to thrive in spite of the instability and harshness of his childhood.
In textured and evocative language, and peppered with unexpected humor, Soul Serenade is an original and captivating coming-of-age story set to an original beat.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: "An elegiac look at a childhood marked by violence, dysfunction, poverty, sorrow--and plenty of good music."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "Testifies to the powerful ways that music provides the soundtrack underneath the harmony and discord of his life...Ollison's moving memoir captures and colorfully reveals the ways that music can soothe the pain."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Minneapolis Star Tribune
      • content: "Gifted memoirist Ollison uses the authentic language of home, profane and poetic, to vividly describe a childhood lived in a state of impermanence."
      • premium: False
      • source: Lambda Literary
      • content: "Ollison is to be highly commended for writing this, tough, disturbing, heartfelt, and music-filled book and for making his easily stereotyped family life and background movingly real...Readers will be turning to downloads, podcasts, CDs--and records--to play along to get full effect of this riveting and engaging book. They will also be anxious for Rashod Ollison's next set to drop."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Virginian-Pilot
      • content: "In Soul Serenade Ollison lifts the curtain so readers can better understand poverty, constant attacks on the most personal aspects of the self, and the enormous effort it takes to rise above and be free."
      • premium: False
      • source: Farah Jasmine Griffin, author of If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday
      • content: "Soul Serenade is a moving and beautifully written memoir. Music is ubiquitous throughout: a constant companion as a gifted young boy comes of age and finds his own creative and critical voice. Rashod Ollison has given us a compelling narrative that is sure to become a classic."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        December 7, 2015
        In this soulful memoir, pop music critic Ollison (who writes for the Dallas Morning News and Jet) testifies to the powerful ways that music provides the soundtrack underneath the harmony and discord of his life. Raymind Ollison’s father introduces his son to the music of Millie Jackson, Al Green, and Betty Wright as they’re visiting one of the father’s lovers. Looking back on those early years, Ollison recognizes that much of the “down-home soul” he heard during those years reflected his parents’ tumultuous marriage, with Aretha Franklin’s music grounding his mother during his parents’ divorce. Soul music guides Ollison through the many crises in his life; when he’s eight, he imagines that Michael Jackson will one day come and whisk him away from his family problems. He’s a shy child and taunted by his schoolmates, but his teacher recognizes Ollison’s potential and introduces him to Langston Hughes’s poetry; from that moment, “a door had been blown open, and his imagination begins to expand and grow.” Through the hurt and sorrow of a broken family, and a difficult childhood, Ollison recalls that music remained “his cocoon, the place where he found the most coherence and delicious engagement.” Ollison’s moving memoir captures and colorfully reveals the ways that music can soothe the pain.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 1, 2015
        An elegiac look at a childhood marked by violence, dysfunction, poverty, sorrow]and plenty of good music. Little Rock native Ollison, former Baltimore Sun pop critic and now a writer for the Virginian-Pilot, opens this memoir with a horrific incident that unfolds like a Greek tragedy, its sad climax the death by bullet of a tiny young sibling, "bow lips parted and baby-doll eyes flung open," in the arms of the girl who would become his mother. Unhappy memory builds on unhappy memory: there is the brief, shining courtship, then a father who will disappear and appear and disappear again, "often in the streets when he wasn't nodding off at home or having nightmares that made him scream and jump in bed," along with a mother who finds no need to express love as long as she puts food on the table, a scary grandmother whose face bore "its usual fuck-you expression," and a community of children inclined to bewilderment in the face of all that adult confusion. Much of Ollison's memoir, reminiscent at many turns of Claude Brown's classic Manchild in the Promised Land (1965), turns on the quest for identity: when his schoolmates shout "faggot," there's more at play than they might have realized. But more, what shapes identity and offers hope and even love are the records that Ollison spins, left behind by his father and picked up along the way: Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Tyrone Davis, Stevie Wonder, and, of more recent vintage, Mary J. Blige ("the wounded warrior voice of my generation"). So powerful are Ollison's responses to music that readers might wish that he addressed the matter in more circumstantial detail, if at least for dramatic relief from his descriptions of passing events that are often ponderously awful. Honest and painful. Readers inclined to lament their own circumstances may brighten up when considering the odds Ollison has overcome.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2015

        Music critic Ollison pens a coming-of-age memoir about his love for soul music.

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

popularity
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shortDescription
A coming-of-age memoir about a young boy in rural Arkansas who searches for himself and his distant father through soul music
Growing up in rural Arkansas, young Rashod Ollison turned to music to make sense of his life. The dysfunction, sadness, and steely resilience of his family and neighbors was reflected in the R&B songs that played on 45s in smoky rooms.
Steeped in the sounds, the smells, the salty language of rural Arkansas in the 1980s, Soul Serenade is the memoir of a pop music critic whose love for soul music was fostered by his father, Raymond. Drafted into the Vietnam War as a teenager, Raymond returned a changed man, “dead on the inside.” After his parents’ volatile marriage ended in divorce, Rashod was haunted by the memory of his itinerant father and his mama’s long forgotten “sunshine smile.” For six-year-old Rashod, his father’s record collection—the music of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al...
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