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Follow Your Heart


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The life and career of an important African American music executive, entrepreneur, and musician

Table of Contents

Foreword by Tavis Smiley vii Foreword by Bill McFarlin ix Preface xi Acknowledgments xiii Part One 1. Pensacola Blues 3 2. Music Crazy 12 3. Boy Meets Band 20 4. "Ma" Rainey's Deep South 32 Part Two 5. New York, New York 43 6. Hootie and the Bird 56 7. The Big, Big Bands 66 8. Call Me "Italy" 80 9. The End of an Era 89 Part Three 10. The Rhythm and Blues Scene 103 11. The Rise of Carnival Records 114 12. After the Manhattans 135 Epilogue: Long Good-byes 147 Discography 153 Index 156 Photos follow pages 88 and 134

About the Author

Christopher Brooks is a professor of African American studies and anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University. He coauthored Shirley Verrett's bestselling autobiography, I Never Walked Alone.


"For every Armstrong or Ellington or Charlie Parker, there were countless musicians, their names unknown even to jazz fans, whose skill gave jazz the solid foundation it needed... Jazz journeyman Joe Evans, now in his 90s, presents the story of the sideman, the unsung hero of the golden age of jazz." The Washington Times "Memorable ... tales add up to a story about a life in music well-lived and well-played." Downbeat "A delight to read." Jazz UK "The life story of Joe Evans as voiced in Follow Your Heart will touch your spirit. This moving account of an unsung musician and record company executive who is now in his nineties should be required reading."--From the Foreword by Tavis Smiley "Evans takes us on his musical journey with humor, honesty, and integrity. He emerges as a living symbol of what our nation should regard with pride; his story represents not only the inequalities faced by so many great musicians but also their extraordinary achievements."--From the Foreword by Bill McFarlin, Executive Director, International Association for Jazz Education "Saxophonist Joe Evans' uncanny memory of his six-plus decades working alongside the legends and lesser-known heroes of jazz and R & B would be enough to make Follow Your Heart essential reading for serious students of American popular music. But this book does more than collect personal tales from an earlier cultural era. Evans crafts a funny, heartbreaking, and insightful account of living through the violence of Jim Crow segregation, shady business dealings, and the hazards of life on the road." Aaron Cohen, Associate Editor, DownBeat "One of the best autobiographies that I have read in many years. Cleverly constructed and extremely well written, this phenomenal book gives a unique perspective into American music history through the challenges, trials, and accomplishments of one of the most underappreciated giants of the American music scene." Emmett G. Price III, author of Hip Hop Culture "A personal, first-hand account of the many luminaries of black music whom Evans encountered during his lifetime. Through its thick, invaluable descriptions of jazz culture, Follow Your Heart is loaded with important occurrences in the development of African American music--namely jazz and rhythm and blues--from the 1920s throughout the 1970s." Cheryl L. Keyes, author of Rap Music and Street Consciousness

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