Books for Black Music Appreciation Month

By Coll Rowe | May 4 2023 | Music

For Black Music Appreciation month in June, Penguin Random House Education is celebrating influential Black musicians and artists. We have provided a selection of books that include a range of music topics, from blues to hip-hop to jazz to pop, and musicians and artists who have brought entertainment to their communities and beyond, and inspired others to make their own art. Within this collection of titles are books about music history, Black women in music, music fundamentals, popular culture, and stories that center on music icons from Billie Holiday to Michael Jackson to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and more.

Easily Slip into Another World
A Life in Music
An autobiography of one of the towering figures of contemporary American music and a powerful meditation on history, race, capitalism, and art.
$32.50 US
May 16, 2023
416 Pages

Dirty Bird Blues
A quietly influential force in African American literature and art, Clarence Major makes his Penguin Classics debut with the twenty-fifth-anniversary edition of Dirty Bird Blues
$18.00 US
Feb 08, 2022
384 Pages
Penguin Classics

Shine Bright
A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop
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)
$18.00 US
Feb 14, 2023
336 Pages
Roc Lit 101

Shout, Sister, Shout!
The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe
The essential biography of America's godmother of rock 'n' roll whose exuberant singning and guitar playing captivated audiences and inspired generations of musicians from the 40s to today.
$18.95 US
Jan 31, 2023
280 Pages
Beacon Press

The Spirit of Music
The Lesson Continues
Grammy Award winner Victor Wooten's inspiring parable of the importance of music and the threats that it faces in today's world.
$17.00 US
Feb 02, 2021
368 Pages

Deep Blues
A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta
"A lucid . . . entrancing study" —Greil Marcus
$18.00 US
Jul 29, 1982
320 Pages
Penguin Books

The Come Up
An Oral History of the Rise of Hip-Hop
The essential oral history of hip-hop, from its origins on the playgrounds of the Bronx to its reign as the most powerful force in pop culture
$35.00 US
Oct 18, 2022
544 Pages

A Life in Music and Protest
The first in-depth biography of the legendary singer and "Voice of the Civil Rights Movement," who combatted racism and prejudice through her music.
$19.00 US
Apr 13, 2021
288 Pages
Beacon Press

Searching for Robert Johnson
The Life and Legend of the "King of the Delta Blues Singers"
Peter Guralnick's extended essay about the life of the man and the myth, and of the place and time that produced both, illuminates much of the obscurity around Johnson without forfeiting any of the mystery.
$24.00 US
Aug 01, 1998
96 Pages

Soul Culture
Black Poets, Books, and Questions that Grew Me Up
“A powerful celebration of poets...Lit lovers will be dazzled.” —Publishers WeeklyExamines firsthand the lives of legendary Black writers who made a way out of no way to illuminate a road map for budding creators desiring to follow in their footsteps
$19.95 US
Aug 15, 2023
256 Pages
Beacon Press

A Little Devil in America
In Praise of Black Performance
A stirring meditation on Black performance in America from the New York Times bestselling author of Go Ahead in the Rain   “Whether heralding unsung entertainers or reexamining legends, Hanif Abdurraqib weaves together gorgeous essays that reveal the resilience, heartbreak, and joy within Black performance. I read this book breathlessly.”—Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half
$18.00 US
Mar 08, 2022
320 Pages
Random House Trade Paperbacks

Man in the Music
The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson
For half a century, Michael Jackson’s music has been an indelible part of our cultural consciousness. Landmark albums such as Off the Wall and Thriller shattered records, broke racial barriers, amassed awards, and set a new standard for popular music. While his songs continue to be played in nearly every corner of the world, however, they have rarely been given serious critical attention.
$17.95 US
Aug 27, 2019
544 Pages

The Death of Rhythm and Blues
“[George’s] reading of history is not only interdisciplinary, it has a musical score...delightful.” —The Washington Post Book World
$24.00 US
Aug 15, 2003
256 Pages
Penguin Books

Boyz n the Void
a mixtape to my brother
Writing to his brother, G’Ra Asim reflects on building his own identity while navigating Blackness, masculinity, and young adulthood—all through wry social commentary and music/pop culture critique
$14.95 US
May 10, 2022
288 Pages
Beacon Press

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism
Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday
Angela Davis gives us a new, radically transforming interpretation of the lives and music of three of the greatest singers of the 20th century.
$18.00 US
Jan 26, 1999
464 Pages

Miles & Me
Miles Davis, the man, the musician, and his friendship with the journalist and poet Quincy Troupe
An intimate story of Miles Davis, the man, the musician, and his friendship with the young journalist and poet Quincy Troupe--soon to be a major motion picture.
$15.95 US
Sep 25, 2018
224 Pages
Seven Stories Press

Billie Holiday: The Last Interview
and Other Conversations
The first-ever collection of interviews with the tortured but ground breaking singer, part of the increasingly beloved series.
$16.99 US
Jul 30, 2019
144 Pages
Melville House