Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'?
The Lives of an American Song
Reviews and Awards
"Todd Decker's Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'? is an eloquent and moving work charting the performance history of one of America's greatest and most controversial songs. Lyrically written and persuasively argued, the book transports the reader through a kaleidoscope of performers from Paul Robeson to Ray Charles, female and male, black and white, who wanted to make the song their own. Read about and listen to the performances with enormous pleasure but make no mistake this book is as much about the 'singing of the American experience of race' as it is about the song." --JORDAN GOODMAN, author of Paul Robeson: A Watched Man
"A deep, wide, and thoroughly fascinating history of one of America's greatest songs, with surprises around every bend." --JAMES KAPLAN, author of Frank: The Voice
"[N]ot just an appraisal or critique, but a genuine conversation about the art of interpretation." --Riffs, Beats, & Codas
"Decker's keen understanding of the song rewards readers with not just the legacy of Paul Robeson's 'Ol' Man River' but also an entire cross-section of American artistic achievement...Contributing to our understanding of the black experience and music's reflection of change, Who Should Sing 'Ol' Man River'? traces the wide breadth, if not the depth, of this meaningful song over time with layers of history, genre, and reception." -- Popular Music and Society
"This book will be a delight for those who are fascinated by "Ol' Man River," those who are interested in the history of the performance and recordings of popular music...Decker provides abundant materials related to the song and shows us how one song can be interpreted and perceived differently by performers and audiences of varied racial backgrounds."--Notes