VOICES OF JOY, VOICES OF FREEDOM by Arnold Dobrin

VOICES OF JOY, VOICES OF FREEDOM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Separate biographies of five black musicians, for younger readers and with none of the musical heft of Dobrin's Aaron Copland (1967) or Igor Stravinski (1970). Sammy Davis, Jr., born in 1925, is the youngest of the five; the others are surely better known to those over 30 than to intended readers. Ethel Waters, Marian Anderson, and Lena Horne, veterans of segregated hotels and clubs and concert halls, are presented here with the same perspective that prevailed when Langston Hughes called them Famous Negro Music Makers in 1955. Dobrin does include Paul Robeson, omitted from Hughes' 17-man survey, but seems awkwardly uncomfortable about Robeson's enthusiasm for Russia and criticism of the United States. Children who need black biographies for school assignments will get the usual anecdotes about Sammy Davis, Jr.'s conversion to Judaism, Ethel Waters' childhood of poverty and neglect, and Marian Anderson's troubles with the DAR, but Dobrin's choice of subjects is hard to credit (what do Sammy Davis, Jr. and Paul Robeson have in common, and why is Lena Home included when kids are looking for material on Aretha Franklin?) and his treatment is no more incisive than any routine magazine sketch.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1972
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan