Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?: The Lives of an American Song - by Todd Decker

Broadway Bookshelf - Must Read Theater Books

Biography | Autobiography | Show Books | For Actors | Musical Scores | Reference Books | History

Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?: The Lives of an American Song by Todd Decker

A Broadway classic, a call to action, and an incredibly malleable popular song, "Ol' Man River" is not your typical musical theater standard. Written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II in the 1920s for Show Boat, "Ol Man River" perfectly blends two seemingly incongruous traits-the gravity of a Negro spiritual and the crowd-pleasing power of a Broadway anthem. Inspired by the voice of African American singer Paul Robeson, who adopted the tune for his own goals as an activist, "Ol' Man River" is both iconic and transformative.

In Who Should Sing "Ol' Man River"? The Lives of an American Song, author Todd Decker examines how the song has shaped, and been shaped by, the African American experience. Yet "Ol' Man River" also transcends both its genre and original conception as a song written for an African American male. Beyond musical theater, this Broadway ballad has been reworked in musical genres from pop to jazz, opera to doo wop, rhythm and blues to gospel to reggae. Pop singers such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Judy Garland made "Ol' Man River" one of their signature songs. Jazz artists such as Bix Biederbecke, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Count Basie, and Keith Jarrett have all played "Ol' Man River," as have stars of the rock and roll era, such as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, the Temptations, Cher, and Rod Stewart. Black or white, male or female-anyone who sings "Ol' Man River" must confront and consider its charged racial content and activist history.

Performers and fans of musical theater as well as students of the Civil Rights movement will find Who Should Sing "Ol' Man River" an unprecedented examination of a song that's played a groundbreaking role in American history.

Available On:
Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?: The Lives of an American Song on Hardcover Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?: The Lives of an American Song on Kindle

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Released: 2014





Angela Allen Releases New Self-Help Book THE MENTAL ACTIVITY WORKBOOK by Blair Ingenthron - February 28, 2024

Angela Allen, a seasoned mindfulness practitioner and holistic wellness advocate, has announced the release of her latest book, The Mental Activity Workbook: Practices to Enhance Well-being and Present-Living.

Album Review: America's Fave Dragapella® Beautyshop Quartet High Kicks Back On Their New Album THE KINSEY SICKS: DRAG QUEEN STORYTIME GONE WILD by Bobby Patrick - February 27, 2024

The songs range from fun to clever to hilarious and might well have stood up on their own without the inclusion of any script.

Exclusive: Oh My Pod U Guys- Bonus Episode: FIGARO, An Original Musical by Jayke Workman - February 26, 2024

This very special Bonus episode highlights the co-writers and director of the stunning new musical, FIGARO. Songwriter Ashley Jana and co-writer and director Will Nunziata come together to share their experience creating this new show, including recording an entire cast album, ahead of the show's world premiere concert on March 4th at the Greenroom 42 in New York City.

Book Review: MARY & ETHEL ...and MIKEY WHO? Is a Fun-filled Time-traveling Show Biz Adventure by Rob Lester - February 26, 2024

Mary & Ethel...and Mikey Who? is a good read (or listen). Come travel through time in a new work of historical fiction and fun, full of Broadway and spice and sweetness.

Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers Iconic DOROTHY LAMOUR & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS:1936-1952 by Bobby Patrick - February 29, 2024

Everything in this collection is captured and remastered beautifully, spanning two discs with 28 songs on each, and that’s a treasure trove, for sure.

The Sum Of Us Banned Books Festival Returns to Bishop Arts Theatre Center, Featuring Author Heather McGhee by Blair Ingenthron - February 24, 2024

Bishop Arts Theatre Center (BATC) has announced that New York Times bestselling author Heather McGhee will be traveling to Dallas to attend BATC's banned books festival inspired by her book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone And How We Can Prosper Together. Learn more about the festival here!

Music Review: The Drinkwater Brothers Show Their WonderTwin Powers With New Single THIS TOWN by Bobby Patrick - February 25, 2024

This cover revives Horan’s music in an honorable, respectful way and gives it a slightly different hue.

WHISPER DARKLY Concept Album Featuring Brad Oscar, Alli Mauzey & More Out Now by Chloe Rabinowitz - February 23, 2024

The concept album of the new immersive electro-swing musical Whisper Darkly is available in digial and streaming formats now.

Album Review: Steven Pasquale SOME OTHER TIME With John Pizzarelli Sweet, Sublime, and Sensational by Erin Samms - February 23, 2024

Some Other Time is an undemanding, easygoing, friendly and palatable album that is going to land on your “Most Played” list on your phone.

MANDELA: A NEW MUSICAL London Cast Recording Out Now by Chloe Rabinowitz - February 22, 2024

Center Stage Records has released the original London cast recording of Mandela – A New Musical, recorded live at the Young Vic, is now available on all digital platforms.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO HEATHER Off-Broadway Cast Recording Out Now by Chloe Rabinowitz - February 21, 2024

The Original Off Broadway cast recording of The Gospel According to Heather, a new musical with a book, music and lyrics by Paul Gordon is now available on all digital platforms.

Album Review: Concord Theatricals Recordings Releases The Studio Cast Recording of 17 AGAIN by Bobby Patrick - February 21, 2024

The album and its producers get major points because the show as a whole is very well represented throughout

Asher Monroe to Release New Album SONGS OF THE CENTURY This Month by Chloe Rabinowitz - February 20, 2024

Top Ten Billboard charting music artist Asher Monroe will release his next album, SONGS OF THE CENTURY on February 26th. Learn more bout Monroe!

R.A.W. Releases New Book THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES by Blair Ingenthron - February 17, 2024

Author R.A.W. has announced the release of his book The Next President of the United States: A Common Sense Approach to Fixing America. Learn more here!

Mauricio Martínez's Newest Album LIVE IN NYC Out Now by Chloe Rabinowitz - February 16, 2024

Broadway actor and Emmy Award Winner Mauricio Martínez has released his newest album, Live in NYC, a collection of iconic show tunes. Learn more about the album!

Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers A Forgotten Star With BETTY HUTTON & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS: 1938-1952 by Bobby Patrick - February 16, 2024

The journey through these two discs, though, is not only enjoyable, it is an education.

Album Review: Melissa Errico, Stephen Sondheim, and The City Make For One Great Album by Erin Samms - February 15, 2024

Melissa Errico singing Stephen Sondheim in the style of the big city? Twist my arm.

The Kinsey Sicks Release DRAG QUEEN STORYTIME GONE WILD! Live Recording by Chloe Rabinowitz - February 15, 2024

To commemorate their 30th Anniversary, The Kinsey Sicks now claim a dozen albums to their name with the release of Drag Queen Storytime Gone Wild!.

American Theatre Wing and The Drama Book Shop to Launch The Playreaders Club by Chloe Rabinowitz - February 15, 2024

The American Theatre Wing and The Drama Book Shop have partnered to launch of The Playreaders Club, a tiered, monthly in-person and virtual events-based club for theater enthusiasts. Learn more about how to join!

Original Cast Recording of Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Will Be Released This Spring by Stephi Wild - February 14, 2024

Concord Theatricals Recordings will release the original cast recording of MCC Theater’s world premiere production of Jason Robert Brown's The Connector.

New York Festival of Song to Release NYFOS Records: 'THE SINGLES, VOL. 1' by Blair Ingenthron - February 11, 2024

On Friday, March 8, 2024, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) will release an album drawn from its archives, NYFOS Records: The Singles, Vol. 1 featuring guest artists performing together with pianist and NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier on NYFOS Records. Learn more here!

Melissa Errico to Release New Album 'SONDHEIM IN THE CITY' Alongside Birdland Residency This Month by Blair Ingenthron - February 11, 2024

Melissa Errico will release a new Sondheim album, 'Sondheim in the City,' on February 16. She will also offer a 10-performance residency at Birdland Jazz Feb 14-18, titled “A Manhattan Valentine”. Learn more about the album and residency here!

Baritone Will Liverman & Pianist Jonathan King to Release 'SHOW ME THE WAY' on Cedille Records by Blair Ingenthron - February 11, 2024

Baritone Will Liverman and Pianist Jonathan King will release 'Show Me The Way', a 2-disc celebration of American Song in March.

Broadway Musician Gregory K. Williams Releases Debut Album by Blair Ingenthron - February 11, 2024

NYC-based violist Gregory K. Williams has released his debut album featuring the unaccompanied viola sonatas of Günther Raphael. Learn more about the album here!

Dennis Tsarson Releases New Contemporary Fantasy Adventure HERE BE JINN by Blair Ingenthron - February 11, 2024

Dennis Tsarson has announced the release of the first book in his Fieldwork in Mesopotamia series, Here Be Jinn. Learn more here!

Jesse Sakari Hyttinen Releases New Book COLLECTION ALGEBRA by Blair Ingenthron - February 10, 2024

Jesse Sakari Hyttinen has announced the release of his new book, Collection Algebra: The Formal Theory of Rooted Tree Generation and Its Extension to Sum Form Equations. Learn more about the book here!

WICKED Prequel Book by Gregory Maguire Set For October Release; Pre-Order 'Elphie: A Wicked Childhood' Now by Michael Major - February 08, 2024

Gregory Maguire – who wrote the 1995 novel that inspired the Broadway musical Wicked – is releasing a new prequel to the beloved story. While plot details for the upcoming 272-page installment are under wraps, Elphie: A Wicked Childhood will seemingly delve deeper into the childhood of the story's heroine, Elphaba.

New Book GREASEPAINT PURITAN: BOSTON TO 42ND STREET IN THE QUEER BACKSTAGE NOVELS OF BRADFORD ROPES Out Now by A.A. Cristi - February 08, 2024

New book explores the life and work of Bradford Ropes, the author of 42nd Street, shedding light on the queer backstage novels.

Music Review: Pleasantville Frontman Aaron David Gleason Debuts This New Band With 1st Single STEEL EYED by Bobby Patrick - February 08, 2024

Little Bobby would not be surprised if Aaron David Gleason gets a little more lookie-loos above ground from his underground bunker and we hope the rest of the album is as strong

Album Review: MAURICIO MARTINEZ LIVE IN NYC Loaded With Lush Vocals by Erin Samms - February 08, 2024

Doesn't everyone love a live recording? You'll love this one.

Videos


TICKET CENTRAL

Recommended For You