Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop

Danyel Smith

"From one of the preeminent cultural critics of her generation, a ... weave of memoir, criticism, and biography that tells the story of Black women in music--from the Dixie Cups to Gladys Knight to Janet, Whitney, and Mariah--as the foundational story of American pop"--

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Book Information

Publisher: Roc Lit 101
Publish Date: 04/19/2022
Pages: 320
ISBN-13: 9780593132715
ISBN-10: 0593132718
Language: English

What We're Saying

January 11, 2023

The 2022 Narrative & Biography Book of the Year is Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop by Danyel Smith, published by Roc Lit 101. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

December 15, 2022

There isn’t anywhere better to slow down, to dive deeper into things, to learn about and reflect upon the world, than in a book. The best books transcend their time and space, even as they help us define our present moment and put it in context. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

December 06, 2022

Like fiction, narratives and biographies can help us empathize with and even inhabit, for a brief moment in the pages of a book, the mindsets and experiences of other people. It allows us to peek into the lives of individuals, see inside organizations, and visit other places without having to leave our reading chair. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

November 17, 2022

“This terrific collection of books balances the innovative with the iterative, and champions doing the right things the right way to make our work and our future tangibly better, no matter the industry or the endeavor.” READ FULL DESCRIPTION

Full Description

American pop music is arguably this country's greatest cultural contribution to the world, and its singular voice and virtuosity were created by a shining thread of Black women geniuses stretching back to the country's founding. This is their surprising, heartbreaking, soaring story--from "one of the generation's greatest, most insightful, most nuanced writers in pop culture" (Shea Serrano) "Sparkling . . . the overdue singing of a Black girl's song, with perfect pitch . . . delicious to read."--Oprah Daily

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, The Root, Variety, Esquire, The Guardian, Newsweek, Pitchfork, She Reads, Publishers Weekly SHORTLISTED FOR THE PORCHLIGHT BUSINESS BOOK AWARD
A weave of biography, criticism, and memoir, Shine Bright is Danyel Smith's intimate history of Black women's music as the foundational story of American pop. Smith has been writing this history for more than five years. But as a music fan, and then as an essayist, editor (Vibe, Billboard), and podcast host (Black Girl Songbook), she has been living this history since she was a latchkey kid listening to "Midnight Train to Georgia" on the family stereo. Smith's detailed narrative begins with Phillis Wheatley, an enslaved woman who sang her poems, and continues through the stories of Mahalia Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, and Mariah Carey, as well as the under-considered careers of Marilyn McCoo, Deniece Williams, and Jody Watley.

Shine Bright
is an overdue paean to musical masters whose true stories and genius have been hidden in plain sight--and the book Danyel Smith was born to write.

About Danyel Smith

Danyel Smith is an author, award-winning journalist, and producer. She's the creator and host the Spotify-exclusive Black Girl Songbook , a music and talk show that centers black women in music.

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