Groundbreaking and heartbreaking, this triumphant novel by two of America's most acclaimed storytellers follows a family of women from enslavement to the dawn of the twenty-first century.
From Reconstruction to both world wars, from the Harlem Renaissance to Vietnam, from spirituals and arias to torch songs and the blues, Some Sing, Some Cry brings to life the monumental story of one American family's journey from slavery into freedom, from country into city, from the past to the future, bright and blazing ahead. Real-life sisters, Ntozake Shange, award-winning author of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf and Ifa Bayeza, award-winning playwright of The Ballad of Emmett Till, achieve nothing less than a modern classic in this story of seven generations of women, and the men and music in their lives.
Opening dramatically at a sprawling plantation just off the South Carolina coast, recently emancipated slave Bette Mayfield quickly says her goodbyes before fleeing for Charleston with her granddaughter, Eudora, in tow. She and Eudora carve out lives for themselves in the bustling port city as seamstress and fortune-teller. Eudora marries, the Mayfield lines grows and becomes an incredibly strong, musically gifted family, a family that is led, protected, and inspired by its women. Some Sing, Some Cry chronicles their astonishing passage through the watershed events of American history.
Sisters and playwrights Ntozake Shange (for colored girls who have considered suicide) and Ifa Bayeza (the play The Ballad of Emmett Till) have composed a sweeping African-American saga animating 200 years of history through the voices of seven generations of the Mayfield family's women, beginning with Elizabeth (Ma Bete), a freed slave, and her granddaughter Eudora. Their fate and that of their progeny follows historical events from the Jim Crow South to the civil rights movement with tragedy and triumph: Eudora is gang raped, giving birth to light-skinned Elma, who grows up and moves to New York followed by her half-sister, Lizzie, a single mother with her own tragic past. Lizzie redefines herself during the Harlem Renaissance, abandoning her daughter, Cinnamon, to become a cabaret legend in Paris. Cinnamon carries the story through the 1940s and the 1960s Chicago busing, but here the novel unravels in a rush to wrap things up with too many characters and no time to develop them. This is a complex poetic treatise on race, culture, love, and family, the use of regional vernacular, dialect, and pure song, resulting in a provocative fictional history.
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Some Sing, Some Cry
Exquisite. I'm a retired music teacher. Your book brought joy to my heart, other emotions as well. You are right. Music is everything! But people are the conduit. Musical people are truly a gift to humanity. Thank you.