FINDING HER VOICE by Mary A. Bufwack

FINDING HER VOICE

Women in Country Music
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Attractively produced but flawed history of women in country music from the turn of the century to today, by anthropologist/social-worker Bufwack and Nashville Tennessean music-reporter Oermann. The narrative progresses chronologically by focusing on country's various genres, from old-time through social protest, cowboy songs, honky-tonk, gospel, rockabilly, the Nashville sound, 70's ``countrypolitan,'' and today's roots revival. Along the way, key performers are profiled, with brief discussions of their careers and most famous recordings. But while the authors' attempt to be inclusive is admirable, they sometimes stretch the definition of ``country'' music, citing Jo Stafford, Dinah Shore, and even Sophie Tucker as country performers. Biographies of artists are also occasionally spread over several different chapters, making for unnecessary repetition. And simple factual errors, such as asserting that the Appalachian dulcimer is the same as the instrument ``mentioned in the book of Daniel in the Bible,'' and, further, that it was ``brought to England as the psaltery during the Crusades,'' makes the reader wary of other ``facts'' offered here. At times, moreover, the authors' generally feminist argument stretches points, as in their discussion of the ballad ``Rising Sun Blues,'' which they assert is ``sung from the point of view of the rueful prostitute''; in fact, most versions are told from the point of view of the man, who pictures himself as the victim. There's a definite need for a serious and thorough history of country music, always a poor stepchild in musical scholarship, but this isn't it. (Photographs--192 b&w)

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-517-58114-0
Page count: 608pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993




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