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Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues [With CD (Audio) and DVD] [Hardcover]

William Ferris

Price: CDN$ 41.27 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2009
This title presents a multimedia introduction to the blues and its roots. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, folklorist William Ferris toured his home state of Mississippi, documenting the voices of African Americans as they spoke about and performed the diverse musical traditions that form the authentic roots of the blues. Now, "Give My Poor Heart Ease" puts front and center a searing selection of the artistically and emotionally rich voices from this invaluable documentary record. Illustrated with Ferris' photographs of the musicians and their communities and including a dual CD/DVD that presents his original field recordings and films, the book features more than twenty interviews relating frank, dramatic, and engaging narratives about black life and blues music in the heart of the American South. Here are the stories of artists who have long memories and speak eloquently about their lives, blues musicians who represent a wide range of musical traditions - from one-strand instruments, bottle-blowing, and banjo to spirituals, hymns, and prison work chants. Celebrities such as B.B. King and Willie Dixon along with performers known best in their neighborhoods express the full range of human and artistic experience - joyful and gritty, raw and painful. In an autobiographical introduction, Ferris reflects on how he fell in love with the vibrant musical culture that was all around him but was considered off limits to a white Mississippian during a troubled era. This magnificent volume brings to life blues music, the broader African American experience, and indeed the history and culture of America itself.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 302 pages
  • Publisher: University of North Carolina Press; Har/Com edition (Nov. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807833258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807833254
  • Product Dimensions: 24.7 x 21.3 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #148,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A book that will transport its readers, though it's meant to be experienced at a walking pace. . . . A multi-faceted portrayal of blues history that makes accessible a community and a genre of music with incalculable influence."--"Inside Higher Ed"

About the Author

WILLIAM FERRIS is Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ferris coedited the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and is the author of Blues from the Delta. Rolling Stone magazine has named him among the top ten professors in the United States.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Dec 3 2009
By Dr Tom Clark - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Kudos to William Ferris for this book. It is clearly a labor of love for him. I was drawn to this work after hearing Ferris in an 10 minute long NPR piece on "All Things Considered" (see/hear at [...]). As a young student Ferris visited backwoods towns along US61 from Memphis south to the LA border. He documents the unknown blues singers he met along the way. And he tells about his long-standing friendship with the legendary BB King fantastic stories! The book is accompanied with a CD of collected music and a DVD documenting his finds.

If you are a fan of Blues performed by the black inventors of the art form, then read/hear the NPR clip and I predict you will find this book to be a "must have"!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that sings. Nov. 21 2009
By Woodshed - Published on
Muddy Waters: Live on TourThe Howlin' Wolf Story - The Secret History of Rock & RollThe Essential Albert King: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of the Styles and Techniques of a Blues and Soul LegendThe Best of Peter Green's Fleetwood MacThe Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double TroubleJimi Hendrix: BluesThe Complete RecordingsFounder of the Delta BluesThe Original Delta BluesBlind Willie Johnson and the Guitar EvangelistsBlowin' the BluesAlligator Records 20th Anniversary CollectionThe book is a real treasure, if you're a hard core blues fan or just plain want to catch an intimate view of one of America's most important musical creations. It is written by a true scholar of this genre that was the foundation of both jazz and rock and roll. This is not just another large magazine but rather a spot on look at the fore runners of all that is today's music here and certainly in the UK. All of the super bands like the Rolling Stones, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, and so many others mined the simple 9 part scale and created an industry. Mr. Ferris is first a foremost a folklorist with many books under his southern belt. He edited "The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture" an enormous undertaking and a must have. It comes as little surprise that president Clinton appointed him as National Chairman for the Endowment of the Humanities. I'm from Chicago where the Mississippi delta blues transformed in to electric Blues of Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and Buddy Guy. This latest book somehow captures the delta where Mr. Ferris is from.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ESSENTIAL! May 16 2010
By paul vernon - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
William Ferris's book is a summary of 40 years of his field research, offering elegantly written portraits of the people and places he spent so much time amongst in the 1960's and beyond. His patch was, essentially, Mississippi and his self-defined brief was to capture the fast-dissapearing history of traditional blues and gospel by any means at his disposal. This included interviews, photos, taped performances and sound films. Unusual for the time, and now, four decades later, the five films are of especially great value. Moreover, they are all included here in DVD format, accompanied by a selection of field recordings on a CD, both packaged into the back of the book. So essentialy you have a multi-media product to absorb; words, photographic images, sound recordings and films, including the one which, in my view, is the best single documentary about what the blues actually means. At 21 minutes, his 1975 color film "Give My Poor Heart Ease" is the ideal introduction to the real purpose and underlying meaning of the Blues as catharsis for its original community, rather than mass entertainment. Ther are no California Rayban-wearing harp players here, just honest folk playing honest music because they have to. Whatever your level of interest in the blues is, Ferris's new volume is one to get and absorb.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars for blues hounds everywhere Jan. 17 2010
By Mme Linda Watten - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an essential book for blues lovers. It traces the birth of Mississippi Delta blues, arguably the birthplace of American blues. There is an extended section on the influence of prisoners who were in Parchman Farm prison, made immortal by a song by Mose Allison years later. I highly recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to love. William Ferris is devoted to the notion that ... July 11 2014
By mike The Blues Guy gumbo - Published on
What's not to love. William Ferris is devoted to the notion that these voices should tell their own stories and the reader can take from that what he will. There's no narrative here. No one is putting these quotes into context. Undoubtedly, the same reader will experience the book differently upon future readings, just as different readers will take away different things.
Meanwhile, the dvd is beyond great. The series of short films are an absolute treasure.
I have yet to listen to the cd. But, a cd, a dvd, and the book. What a great value.

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