The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

A Biography
Author: Michael Hicks
The triumphant journey of a beloved musical institution
Cloth – $29.95
Paper – $19.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 08/21/2017
Cloth: 03/30/2015
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About the Book

A first-of-its-kind history, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir tells the epic story of how an all-volunteer group founded by persecuted religious outcasts grew into a multimedia powerhouse synonymous with the mainstream and with Mormonism itself.

Drawing on decades of work observing and researching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Michael Hicks examines the personalities, decisions, and controversies that shaped "America's choir." Here is the miraculous story behind the Tabernacle's world-famous acoustics, the anti-Mormonism that greeted early tours, the clashes with Church leaders over repertoire and presentation, the radio-driven boom in popularity, the competing visions of rival conductors, and the Choir's aspiration to be accepted within classical music even as Mormons sought acceptance within American culture at large. Everything from Billboard hits to TV appearances to White House performances paved the way for Mormonism's crossover triumph. Yet, as Hicks shows, such success raised fundamental concerns regarding the Choir's mission, functions, and image.

About the Author

Michael Hicks is a professor of music at Brigham Young University and the author of Mormonism and Music: A History and Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions.

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“Hicks documents plenty of intrigue in the leadership, mission and repertoire of ‘America's choir,’ . . . . this history is more provocative than readers may suspect.”--Kirkus Reviews

"Tracking the choir from its humble beginnings in 1836 to moves into radio, international touring, and TV and film appearances, the material is as expansive in scope as the choir's reach has become. . . . Intriguing."--Library Journal

“Mormon history written by Mormons can be pretty dry, but Mr. Hicks, a professor of music at Brigham Young University, is funkier than your average saint. . . . The anecdotes alone are worth the price of the book.”--The Wall Street Journal

"A well-done biography that best highlights the historical aspects of the growth of the choir and the vision of its several directors."--Association for Mormon Letters

"While the historical information is well presented and highly engaging, it is the story of the choir's intersection with American society and culture, and Hicks' ability to bring out these nuances, that make this book a brilliant read."--The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians

"The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography is the most accessible and authoritative history of this unique musical ensemble yet published. . . . Required reading not only for Mormons and musicians, but for anyone who wants to learn about the realities of world-class music making in a hierarchal religious community."--Mormon Studies Review

"Michael Hicks has written what is surely the most complete history and discussion of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. . . . I recommend the The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography, both for the very readable outward history of the Choir in its religious setting and for consideration of the many behind-the-scenes realities concerning personalities, organization, training, and policy in the operation of a large volunteer choir."--BYU Studies Quarterly

"With this volume, academic interest in Mormon musical culture unquestionably signals its arrival."--Notes

"[A] carefully composed, artfully constructed, and fastidiously researched book."--Utah State Historical Quarterly

"The eloquent mixture of Hicks' historical accuracy, precision, and impartiality with his sense of compassion and profound understanding of historical processes creates a unique narrative that readers will not only enjoy but also appreciate."--Nova Religio


"This fascinating, honest account should find many eager readers among the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's millions of fans. Michael Hicks combines the accuracy of a fine historian with the sensitivity of a judicious music critic."--Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848

"An invaluable retelling of one of America's most vibrant and important musical institutions."--Eric Whitacre

"This engagingly written book not only charts the history of an American institution, but also creatively uses the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s biography to illuminate two centuries of US cultural and religious history."--Todd Kerstetter, author of God's Country, Uncle Sam's Land: Faith and Conflict in the American West

"This much needed account of perhaps the most important of Mormon distinctives is exceedingly well done. Read and enjoy."--Jan Shipps, author of Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons

"A fascinating history of the wonderful Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Michael Hicks traces the story of this great ensemble from its early days to its current status as one of the world's great choirs. He highlights the remarkable dedication and musicianship of the choir members through the years, and the leadership and vision of the conductors."--David Hurley, member of The King's Singers


• Finalist, Utah Book Award for Nonfiction, Utah Center for the Book, 2016
• Honorable Mention, Best Biography, Mormon History Association, 2016