The recently published Keep On Pushing (Black Power Music - From Blues To Hip-Hop
) (Lawrence Hill Books/IPG
) is the latest book from longtime California music journalist/author Denise Sullivan
whose last book was 2004's The White Stripes: Sweethearts of the Blues
. This ever-engaging book by the Crawdaddy
columnist and self-described "record geek" could as easily be filed under American political history or American music history (she thinks the latter to be more fitting) as it explores how American history of the past numerous decades is so closely intertwined with protest/revolutionary music (from the early blues, through the musical soundtrack of the civil rights movement, up to the role of contemporary hip-hop as voice of protest).
In Keep On Pushing,
the "Nor Cal through and through" music writer examines the cultural interchanges of black and white musicians (many Bay Area artists included) and, along the way, takes numerous enlightening tangents uncovering tidbits of musical history not normally unearthed.
This week I caught up with the author, who tomorrow (Sunday, September 18th) will be at Stories Books & Cafe
on 1716 Sunset Blvd from 4pm to 7pm and next month at both D.G. Wills Books
in San Diego and at San Francisco's literary festival LitQuake
, for an in-depth discussion on Keep On Pushing
and many of the areas it explores.
Following a book on the White Stripes,
how did you decide on the theme of this book next? How long did you work on this book for?
It's complicated, which is the exact thing I noted in the White Stripes book when I was writing about them covering "Your Southern Can is Mine" by Blind Willie McTell.
Matters of race and the
sexes, the Great Migration, what was once called the "American Dream," industry, ingenuity, and the entire great American songbook are of deep interest to me and all are tied up in the White Stripes story. Keep on Pushing
is a similar story, only it has a lot more people (many of them black, others are Native American, women, or economically strapped, most all of them are trying to survive America), and music is big part of their toolkit. Specifically though, in the case of both books, it was fine art photography that initially inspired me to launch my investigations: American Ruins
by Camilo Jose Vergara
, and The Black Panthers
by Stephen Shames.