Radio Bristol Book Club Archives - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Radio Bristol Book Club: Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Cultural historian Karl Hagstrom Miller’s first book, Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow, combines cultural, economic, and intellectual history to chart the development of a segregated commercial music industry in the early 20th century. Segregating Sound examines popular music in the United States through the intersections of race, gender, sound, and money. A musical color line, corresponding to the physical color line of southern segregation, emerged as both commercial record companies and academic folklorists scoured the south for new songs and categorized them according to the racial ideologies of the day. This book gives readers a more nuanced understanding of the making of musical genres and the impact on these delineations on the music industry. After its publication in 2010, Segregating Sound received the Woody Guthrie Award for the best annual book on popular music from the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.

Black-and-white book cover with title in the center dividing two close-up shots of a guitar player's hands on the neck of the guitar -- one hand is that of a Black musician, the other that of a white musician.

Dr. Karl Hagstrom Miller is an Associate Professor in the Department of Music at the University of Virginia, focusing on Critical and Comparative Studies. He received a Ph.D. in history from New York University and has received fellowships from the Smithsonian Institute and the American Council of Learned Societies. His writing on various pop music topics has appeared in Wax Poetics, Texas Observer, American Music, American Historical Review, and PopMatters, among other venues. Miller is particularly interested in how transformations in commercial markets and music technology changed the ways people used music to forge their conceptions of race and region, imagine their relationship to the broader world, comprehend the past, and dream about the future.

Color image of a white man shown from the upper chest/shoulders up. He has short light brown/dark blonde hair and a "soul patch" tuft of hair below his lower lip. He is wearing a green shirt.

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, October 27 at 12:00pm for the discussion of Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow. You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for November is Voices Worth Listening: Three Women of Appalachia by Thomas Burton; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, November 17. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks here, where you can also listen to archived shows! We will also be releasing our 2023 reading list in November!

Tonia Kestner is the Executive Director of the Bristol Public Library.

Radio Bristol Book Club: The Man in Song: A Discographic Biography of Johnny Cash

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Johnny Cash sold more than 50 million albums over his 40-year career and is the only artist to be inducted into four different Hall of Fames – the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Many biographies have been written about “the Man in Black” but none are quite like The Man in Song. This unique approach to a biography tells the story of Cash’s life through the lens of the music that meant so much to him. By studying the songs Cash wrote or chose to record, John Alexander takes the reader into the mind of the legendary singer and shows how deeply intertwined Cash’s life and music were.

Johnny Cash was a man who prized authenticity in his music, and Alexander demonstrates this as only a music historian can. He leads the reader though a detailed look at how the music and lyrics Cash wrote or recorded throughout his life reflect specific events, people, and memories that tell the story of his life.

The Man in Song book cover shows a black-and-white image of a young-ish Johnny Cash. He is looking straight at the camera, wears all black, and has his chin on his hand.

John M. Alexander is a music journalist and a lifelong fan and historian of Johnny Cash. He has a PhD in English from City University Graduate Center in New York and has worked as a professor and was the Senior Music Editor and Producer at Reader’s Digest for 18 years. He is now Senior Editor at the Brooklyn Eagle and has opened his own Alexander Records where he focuses on creating timeless compilations. He has created almost 400 CD box sets throughout his career. In 1977, he compiled Cash’s greatest gospel songs into a 3-CD box set collection called Johnny Cash Timeless Inspiration that prompted Cash to pen a personal note expressing his gratitude, saying “This is an album that has always been my dream project…I am eternally grateful that someone like yourself could share this love with me and put it out there for people to hear.” This note and the work on that collection led to a relationship and four more Johnny Cash box sets.

The Timeless Inspiration album cover shows an ocean and sunrise/sunset view with Johnny Cash's image in the foreground. He is in profile holding his guitar and wearing a black jacket over a white long-sleeved shirt.

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, September 22 at 12:00pm for the discussion of The Man in Song: A Discographic Biography of Johnny Cash. You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for October is Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow by Karl Hagstrom Miller; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, October 27. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks here, where you can also listen to archived shows!

* Be sure to check out the current special exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum – 1968: A Folsom Redemption – to learn more about Johnny Cash and his music. It is on display through October 20, 2022.

Erika Barker is Curatorial Manager at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and an avid reader.

Radio Bristol Book Club: The Thread That Runs So True

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

This month we are reading The Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart. This book tells the story of Stuart’s life told in six sections or parts. Among these parts are several stories that define Stuart’s career as a Kentucky Mountain school teacher. Conversational in tone, you soon forget the book is autobiographical because the characters come alive in the richness of their speech and personalities. The book’s title and chapter headings were taken from a folk song children would sing at Lonesome Valley School. At 17, after only three years of high school, Stuart began his teaching career in a one-room rural school. Stuart does not allow himself to come between the reader and the community he describes because he functions as a guide to the experiences of his community. Stuart’s disguise of the people and places within the book give the stories artistic freedom. This book will make you grateful for the teachers you had growing up who influenced your life.

Cover image of The Thread That Runs So True has an illustration of a young white man wearing light-colored shirt and pants leaning against a tree with a one-room white clapboard schoolhouse in the background.

Jesse Stuart was born in a log cabin in Greenup County, Kentucky, in 1906. He was the first in his family to finish high school, graduating from Greenup High school in 1926, and he worked his way through Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, from which he graduated in 1929. While at Lincoln Memorial, he studied under Harry Harrison Kroll, a well-known novelist and one of Stuart’s greatest influences. Stuart returned to Eastern Kentucky and, after two years of public school teaching and administrative service, he decided to enroll in graduate school at Vanderbilt University. He pursued, but did not complete, a Master of Arts degree in English.

Stuart married Naomi Deane Norris in 1939, and they settled on his ancestral land in W Hollow. They had one daughter named Jessica Jane who became an accomplished novelist and poet. Stuart was a remarkable and original writer becoming an accomplished poet, short story writer, novelist, and essayist by the time he was in his 40s. He received the 1934 Jeannette Sewal Davis poetry prize for his first major book of poetry, Man with the Bull-Tounged Plow (1934), which included 703 sonnets, many mimicking the style of great Scottish poet Robert Burns.  The book was described by the Irish poet George William Russell as the greatest work of poetry to come out of America since Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass. He was the recipient of many awards, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship (1937), the Academy of Arts and Sciences award, the Berea College Centennial award for literature, the Academy of American Poets award, and several honorary degrees. He died in 1984 in Ironton, Ohio, and is buried in the Plum Grove cemetery near W Hollow.

A colorized photograph of Jesse Stuart. He is a white man with dark hair, and he wears a light-colored suit and tie. It looks like he is leaning on the side of a boat in this photograph. He is smiling widely at the camera.

Author Jesse Stuart

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, August 25 at 12:00pm for the discussion of The Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart. You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for September is The Man in Song: A Discographic Biography of Johnny Cash by John Alexander, a book chosen to go along with our upcoming special exhibit 1968: A Folsom Redemption about Johnny Cash’s concerts at Folsom Prison. We’ll be discussing this interesting book on Thursday, September 22. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks HERE, where you can also listen to archived shows!

Tonia Kestner is the Executive Director at the Bristol Public Library.

Radio Bristol Book Club: The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution, and the Birth of the Smithsonian

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

For those who don’t know, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate museum, and so that connection inspired our July book club pick: The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution, and the Birth of the Smithsonian by Heather Ewing. British scientist James Smithson (1765–1829) left his estate to the United States to found “at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Congress authorized acceptance of the Smithson bequest on July 1, 1836, and ten years later the Smithsonian was officially founded. Drawing on unpublished letters and diaries from archives across Europe and the United States – including the entirety of the Smithsonian’s archive – Heather Ewing paints an in-depth and fascinating portrait of James Smithson. His compelling story takes us from his complicated beginnings as the illegitimate son of the first Duke of Northumberland to his career in science, the closest thing the 18th century had to a meritocracy. Against a backdrop of war and revolution, Smithson and his friends, who included many of the most famous scientists of the age, burst through boundaries at every turn, defying gravity in the first hot air balloons, upending the biblical timeline with their geological finds, and exploring the realm of the invisible with the discovery of new gases. This book presents readers with a wonderful journey through science, ambition, and philanthropic vision, resulting in the largest museum and research complex in the world!

Book cover shows a painted portrait of James Smithson - he is a white man, middle-aged, wearing a high collar and white cravat, and a black frock coat.

Heather Ewing is a graduate of Yale University and the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is an architectural historian who has worked for the Smithsonian and the Ringling Museum of Art. She lives in New York.

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, July 28 at 12:00pm for the discussion of The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution, and the Birth of the Smithsonian. You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for August is The Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, August 25. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks HERE, where you can also listen to archived shows!

* The featured image above is the original Smithsonian Institution building, Washington, D.C. in 1864. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs. http://lccn.loc.gov/2017659613

Rene Rodgers is Head Curator at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and an obsessive reader!

Radio Bristol Book Club: Crooked Hallelujah

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Our June book club pick is Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford. A saga about family, the bonds between women, and surviving in a world filled with challenges and dangers, Crooked Hallelujah tells the stories of Justine – a mixed-blood Cherokee woman – and her daughter, Reney, as they move from Eastern Oklahoma’s Indian Country in the hopes of starting a new, more stable life in Texas amid the oil bust of the 1980s. Justine’s mother Lula and her Granny were powerful forces in her life, and leaving them and the home she’s always known behind is hard. Throughout the book, Kelli Jo Ford explores the mother-daughter bond and the ways that this family sacrifices much for those they love, amid the larger forces of history, religion, class, and culture.

A black book cover with the silhouette of two women holding hands. The silhouettes show a red sky and open landscape.

Courtesy of Grove Atlantic

Kelli Jo Ford is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Crooked Hallelujah, her debut novel-in-stories, was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, The Story Prize, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, The Dublin Literary Award, and The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She is the recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, and a Dobie Paisano Fellowship. She teaches writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

A photograph of a Native American woman. She has short black hair and is wearing a dark blue long-sleeved top and dangly earrings. She is smiling at the camera.

Courtesy of Grove Atlantic, © Val Ford Hancock

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, June 23 at 12:00pm for the discussion of Crooked Hallelujah. You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for July is The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution, and the Birth of the Smithsonian by Heather Ewing; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, July 28. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks here, where you can also listen to archived shows!

Rene Rodgers is Head Curator at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and an obsessive reader!

Radio Bristol Book Club: My Old True Love

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Our May book club pick is My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams. My Old True Love is a fictional story inspired by Appalachian ballads and Adams’ own family history. This tale of doomed love, heartbreak, and betrayal takes place in a close-knit 19th-century Appalachian community. Arty Wallen narrates the story as she reflects on her life and the lives of those closest to her. When Arty was nine years old her cousin Larkin Stanton was born and orphaned by the death of his mother, so Arty raises him as her own. Larkin and Hackley, Arty’s younger brother, are close but rivalrous friends. Both boys are musically gifted and enchanted by the old songs their grandmother used to sing to them. Eventually they find themselves competing for the love of Mary Chandler, the prettiest girl in their mountain community. Though Hackley wins Mary’s love, he does not stop his womanizing ways even after their marriage. When the town gets swept up in the Civil War, Hackley is conscripted to fight for the Confederacy, leaving Larkin and Mary behind. What Larkin does next reminds us that these sad songs of old are often reflective of imperfect people and the decisions a troubled heart can make.

Book cover showing an artistic rendering (painting or colored etching) of a mountain landscape with a river passing through it.

Cover design for My Old True Love

Sheila Kay Adams is a seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and musician. She was born and raised in the Sodom Laurel community of Madison County, North Carolina. Her skill as a storyteller and deep familiarity with Appalachian music and culture is apparent right from the beginning of the novel. She interweaves ballads, depictions of rural community life, and Appalachian vernacular into the tale so naturally that you feel as if you are there. Adams learned the tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing from her great-aunt and other notable singers in her community. She is also an accomplished clawhammer-style banjo player and has been performing publicly since she was in her teens. In addition to her books, she has recorded several albums of ballads, songs, and stories. She was the vocal coach and technical advisor for the movie Songcatcher (2000) and made an appearance herself in Last of the Mohicans (1992).

A white woman with long straight white hair wearing a reddish-orange quarter-sleeve dress and a brown vest. She is holding a large head banjo and looking.

Sheila Kay Adams

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, May 26 at 12:00pm for the discussion of My Old True Love. You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for June is Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, June 23. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks here, where you can also listen to archived shows!

Erika Barker is the Curatorial Manager at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

 

 

 

Radio Bristol Book Club: What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Our April book club pick is What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte. While the book is only 146 pages, it packs in a lot of history, culture, and analysis into its examination of Appalachia and the too-frequent stereotypes or perceptions of this region. Appalachia covers over 700,000 square miles, with counties in 13 states from Alabama to New York. Despite this huge area and the widely different characteristics and peoples who live and work here, Appalachia has too often been viewed over the years as a monolithic region and described predominantly with words like backwards, poor, white, uneducated, rural, isolated, etc. A lot of those perceptions were strengthened by J. D. Vance’s popular book (and now a movie) Hillbilly Elegy, published in 2016. Catte knows a different Appalachia – and her book is a powerful answer to the caricatures and assumptions made about the region as she explores its diverse peoples and voices and why stereotypes about Appalachia have been embraced.

The cover of What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia shows a yellow sky with the title words in black on it. The sky is above a dark green and black forest and the reflection of the trees in the red water below as standing people.

 Elizabeth Catte is a writer and historian from East Tennessee. She writes about history, politics, and culture, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Washington PostGuernicaThe NationMcSweeney’sIn These Times, the Boston ReviewGravy, and has been reviewed in The New York TimesBookforumNew York Review of Books, and the Los Angeles Times. Currently she is an editor-at-large for West Virginia University Press and the co-founder of Passel, an applied history firm. She has a PhD in public history from Middle Tennessee State University and uses her master’s degree in museum studies to curate a website dedicated to food eaten on King of the Hill called Pork Chop Night. She also serves on the board of the Appalachian African-American Cultural Center in Pennington Gap, Virginia.

This photograph is a headshot of a white woman. She has reddish brown hair that reaches to her shoulders, and she is wearing a blue button-down shirt. Her eyes look blue and she is smilling at the camera.

Author Elizabeth Catte.

 Please make plans to join us on Thursday, April 28 at 12:00pm for the discussion of What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia. You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for May is My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, May 26. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks here, where you can also listen to archived shows!

René Rodgers is head curator at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and an avid reader.

Radio Bristol Book Club: Come Sing, Jimmy Jo

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm! If one of your resolutions for 2022 is to read more books, Radio Bristol Book Club is a great way to help you meet that goal – so read along with us!

This month we are reading Come Sing, Jimmy Jo, a children’s book by Katherine Paterson. The story follows James Johnson as he sings and plays the music he loves. But approaching fame as the centerpiece of his family’s band on television – and the change of his performing name to Jimmy Jo – bring mixed feelings and anxiety. Jimmy Jo isn’t sure that this new music is for him, and he’s sad to leave his mountain home to be on stage. How does he reconcile these feelings and responsibilities with the music that is a part of him and with still being just a kid? Aimed at children 10 years and up, this book makes for a great story for adults too!

Book cover shows a young white boy with light hair and glasses singing and playing guitar in the front yard of a wooden house. He is wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Behind him, an older gray-haired woman sits on the porch listening to him. She wears a light-colored dress.

Katherine Paterson’s website shares this beloved author’s many achievements and accolades, but for many of us, the Paterson book that had the most impact on us is the wonderful but cry-inducing Bridge to Terabithia. However, she has written a multitude of books – more than 40, in fact, including 18 novels for children and young people. She has twice won the Newbery Medal, for Bridge to Terabithia in 1978 and Jacob Have I Loved in 1981. The Master Puppeteer won the National Book Award in 1977 and The Great Gilly Hopkins won the National Book Award in 1979 and was also a Newbery Honor Book. For the body of her work, she received the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1998, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2006, and in 2000 was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.

Not only is she a prolific author, but she also gives her time and passion to children’s literature and reading. She is a vice-president of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance and is a member of the board of trustees for Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is also a honorary lifetime member of the International Board of Books for Young People and an Alida Cutts lifetime member of the US section, USBBY. She was the 2010-2011 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

In this image, an elderly white woman sits in a wooden chair with trees and meadow behind her. She is wearing a blue long-sleeved top with a long necklace.

Author Katherine Paterson.

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, February 24 at 12:00pm for the discussion of Come Sing, Jimmy Jo by Katherine Paterson, followed by a conversation with the author! The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us! You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app.

Looking ahead: Our book pick for March is LGBTQ: Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia by Jeff Mann; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, March 24. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks here, where you can also listen to archived shows!

Rene Rodgers is Head Curator of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and a voracious reader.

Radio Bristol Book Club: Storming Heaven

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm! If one of your resolutions for 2022 is to read more books, Radio Bristol Book Club is a great way to help you meet that goal – so read along with us!

Our first book of 2022 is Denise Giardina’s Storming Heaven. This 1988 novel follows the journeys of four residents of Annadel, West Virginia, who live in the midst of conflict between the mining community and the coal industry that dominates the small town. From activists and union men to a local nurse and a Sicilian immigrant whose sons lost their lives in the mines, Giardina uses their personal and every day stories to explore “forgotten events in history,” including the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest labor uprising in United States history. Giardina’s book is a complement to The Way We Worked, a Smithsonian exhibit currently on display at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. This exhibit traces the history of work in America over the last 150 years, including the impact of unionization on workers’ rights and working conditions. The museum has also created a supplementary display focused on local and regional work history, and one section of the display explores coal mining and includes a wide variety of objects and images loaned to us from the Buchanan County Historical Society. The exhibit will be open through January 23, so be sure to stop by and visit it before it goes!

The cover of the book is dark green with the title in a pink or peach color. Below the title and author, an image of a coal town in the mountains is seen with a railroad track leading into it from the right side of the picture.
The cover to Denise Giardina’s Storming Heaven.

Denise Giardina was born and raised in West Virginia. Storming Heaven, her second book, was a Discovery Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and received the 1987 W. D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the South. She is the author of Good King Harry, Saints and Villains, The Unquiet Earth, Fallam’s Secret, and Emily’s Ghost. Her Appalchian novels have been taught in university courses. Giardina has been ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal Church, and she is also a community activist and a former candidate for governor of West Virginia.

An older white woman sitting in a wooden rocking chair. She is wearing a green-patterned floral dress with a brownish cardigan, and she is holding a microphone while she talks to an audience.
Denise Giardina speaking at Appalachian State University in 2015.

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, January 27 at 12:00pm for the discussion of Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us! You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app.

Looking ahead: Our book pick for February is the children’s book Come Sing, Jimmy Jo by Katherine Paterson; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, February 24. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks here, where you can also listen to archived shows!

Rene Rodgers is Head Curator of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and a voracious reader.

Radio Bristol Book Club: Songteller – My Life in Lyrics

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

This month’s book is Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton with Robert K. Oermann. This beautiful coffee table book is a joy and an inspiration to read – from cover to cover, or just dipping into the individual stories behind your favorite songs. Told in her own words, Dolly mines over 60 years of songwriting to share the personal stories, candid insights, and vivid memories behind 175 of her songs. She explores the earliest song she wrote (at age six!), familiar and well-loved hits like “Coat of Many Colors,” “9 to 5,” and “I Will Always Love You,” and songs she performed with other artists like “Tomorrow is Forever” (Porter Wagoner) and “Let Her Fly” (Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette) – amongst so many others. It’s not only the insights and the history behind Dolly’s huge songwriting catalog that make this book special; the reader also gets to enjoy wonderful images from throughout her career, photographs of important and personal ephemera and objects that have been saved over the years, and a hint of her “secret song,” locked in a display case at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and set to be open in 2045!

The book cover is a pale aqua with red writing; it also has some decorative floral elements in a darker aqua around the central oval. In the central oval there is a black-and-white photograph of a young Dolly Parton. She is a white woman with big loosely curled blond hair, large hoop earrings, and a denim shirt. She is looking over her shoulder.
The cover of Dolly Parton’s Songteller.

Dolly Parton needs no introduction, but just in case you don’t know her and her work well, here are the basics: Born in East Tennessee, Parton began singing and performing at an early age, taking her talent and determination all the way to Nashville – and beyond. She is the most honored and revered female country singer-songwriter of all time, with numerous awards, bestselling albums, and Top 10 hits. She has also acted to great acclaim, and she is well-known for her charity work, most especially her Imagination Library, which has gifted over 130 million books to children across the world. Journalist Robert K. Oermann has been called “the unofficial historian of Nashville’s musical heritage.” When he first came to Nashville, he worked as a reference librarian at the Country Music Hall of Fame; since then he has written nine books, worked on documentary films, and produced pieces for numerous media outlets including The Tennessean, Rolling Stone, and Esquire.

This photograph shows an older white man wearing a dark flue denim button-down shirt over a tee. He has black-rimmed glasses and white thinning hair. He is sitting in a burgandy/brown patterned chair with bookshelves/record shelves and other home decor behind him.
Author Robert K. Oermann. Taken by Larry McCormack for The Tennessean

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, December 23at 12:00pm for the discussion of Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton with Robert K. Oermann. After our discussion, we’ll have the chance to chat to Oermann about his work with Dolly on this wonderful book. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time – even better, pick up a physical copy and look at it while listening to the audiobook version, thus getting the best of both worlds! We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us! You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app.

Looking ahead: Our book pick for January is Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, January 27. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks here, where you can also listen to archived shows!

Rene Rodgers is Head Curator of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and a Dolly fan.