This book offers reflections on the relationships between black American intellectuals and African American musical traditions from blues to hip hop.These learned but engagingly personal essays by the late poet and critic Lorenzo Thomas explore the interrelationships among African American music, literature, and popular culture, from the Harlem Renaissance to the present. Thomas (1944-2005) was an important American poet and a leading literary figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. His own work was profoundly influenced by black musical forms, providing a unique historical and aesthetic perspective that sets this book apart from other books that examine black music.""Don't Deny My Name"" (which takes its title from a blues song) begins by laying out the case for the blues as constituting a body of literature, one that confronts the situation of African American migrants to the urban North and newer territories to the West. The essays that follow collectively provide a tour of the movement through classic jazz, bop, and the explosions of the free jazz era, followed by a section on R&B and Soul. The collection ends with a polemical essay about the hip hop phenomenon.
Lorenzo Thomas was the author of numerous books of poetry and criticism, including A Visable Island, Fit Music, California Songs, and Extraordinary Measures: Afrocentric Modernism and Twentieth-Century American Poetry. He began his career in the 1960s and was an important member of the Black Arts Movement of that era. Aldon Nielsen is George and Barbara Kelly Professor in American Literature at Pennsylvania State University and author of Black Chant: Languages of African-American Postmodernism and Reading Race in American Poetry.