Cover for Smith: William Grant Still. Click for larger image

William Grant Still

An accessible introduction to the dean of African American composers

In this compact introduction to the life and work of eminent African American composer William Grant Still (1895-1978), Catherine Parsons Smith tracks the composer's interrelated careers in popular and concert music. Still merged both musical traditions in his work, studying composition with George W. Chadwick at the New England Conservatory, collaborating with Langston Hughes on Troubled Island, and working as a commercial arranger and composer on Broadway and radio during the Harlem Renaissance. Still also played in the pit band for Shuffle Along, served as recording director for the first black-owned record label, Black Swan, and arranged music for artists such as Sophie Tucker, Paul Whiteman, and Artie Shaw. Best known for his Afro-American Symphony and other works that drew heavily on black American musical heritage, Still struggled against financial hardship and declining attention to his work, which he attributed to political and racist conspiracies. This "dean of Afro-American composers" created his own, unique version of musical modernism, influencing commercial music, symphonic music, and opera in the process.


"This exemplary introduction to African American musician William Grant Still will appeal to both students and laypersons. . . . Recommended."--Choice

"This book will be the standard work on William Grant Still for at least twenty years. Smith provides a brilliant narrative of Still's active career, his cooperation with Carl Van Vechten, and his prestige as an American composer. A useful introduction to Still's life, career, music, and sociological importance."--Wayne D. Shirley, emeritus senior music specialist, Library of Congress

"A superb general reference to the life and career of William Grant Still. Smith does an excellent job of placing the composer within the context of African American life of his day. She is at her best in narrating Still's professional career in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles."--Josephine Wright, editor of New Perspectives on Music: Essays in Honor of Eileen Southern


Catherine Parsons Smith is a professor emerita of music at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is the author of Making Music in Los Angeles: Transforming the Popular and William Grant Still: A Study in Contradictions.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/46gdn6ed9780252033223.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Black Music Research Journal - Cover
Black Music Research Journal

Edited by Gayle Murchison

Cafe Society - Cover
Cafe Society

The wrong place for the Right people

Barney Josephson with Terry Trilling-Josephson

Banjo Roots and Branches - Cover
Banjo Roots and Branches

Edited by Robert B. Winans

Sounds of the New Deal - Cover
Sounds of the New Deal

The Federal Music Project in the West

Peter Gough

Music and the Moving Image - Cover
Music and the Moving Image

Edited by Gillian B. Anderson & Ronald H. Sadoff

Peggy Glanville-Hicks - Cover
Peggy Glanville-Hicks

Composer and Critic

Suzanne Robinson

American Music - Cover
American Music

Edited by Gayle Sherwood Magee

Beyond Bach - Cover
Beyond Bach

Music and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century

Andrew Talle

The Man That Got Away - Cover
The Man That Got Away

The Life and Songs of Harold Arlen

Walter Rimler

Black Opera - Cover
Black Opera

History, Power, Engagement

Naomi André

Jazz Internationalism - Cover
Jazz Internationalism

Literary Afro-Modernism and the Cultural Politics of Black Music

John Lowney

May Irwin - Cover
May Irwin

Singing, Shouting, and the Shadow of Minstrelsy

Sharon Ammen

The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music - Cover
The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music

Composers, Consumers, Communities

Marie Sumner Lott