Winner of the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Winner of the American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation
Winner of the PEN Oakland–Josephine Miles Award
Winner of the MAAH Stone Book Award
A Pitchfork Best Music Book of the Year
A Rolling Stone Best Music Book of the Year
A Boston Globe Summer Read
“Brooks traces all kinds of lines…inviting voices to talk to one another, seeing what different perspectives can offer, opening up new ways of looking and listening.”
—New York Times
“A wide-ranging study of Black female artists, from elders like Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters to Beyoncé and Janelle Monáe…Connecting the sonic worlds of Black female mythmakers and truth-tellers.”
“A gloriously polyphonic book.”
—Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland
How is it possible that iconic artists like Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé can be both at the center and on the fringe of the culture industry? Daphne Brooks explores more than a century of music archives to bring to life the critics, collectors, and listeners who have shaped our perceptions of Black women both on stage and in the recording studio.
Liner Notes for the Revolution offers a startling new perspective, informed by the overlooked contributions of other Black women artists. We discover Zora Neale Hurston as a sound archivist and performer, Lorraine Hansberry as a queer feminist critic of modern culture, and Pauline Hopkins as America’s first Black female cultural commentator. Brooks tackles the complicated racial politics of blues music recording, song collecting, and rock and roll criticism in this long overdue celebration of Black women musicians as radical intellectuals.