Thought We Were Writing the Blues: But They Called It Rock 'n' Roll
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Also available on Kindle at Amazon.com
Sisters Uptown Bookstore in Harlem
Thanks to the many detailed quotes from McCoy herself, this book has a vibrancy missing from other, drier books written about the period. McCoy’s tales of the Brill Building era paint a fascinating picture as she encounters – and gains the respect of – all the male movers and shakers of the business. Corsano organizes her subject’s memories excellently, allowing her words to drive the book, aided by many personal photos that give it a genuine first-hand account of the music scene in pre-60s New York, and how McCoy paved the way for writers such as Carole King and Ellie Greenwich. Kingsley Abbott for Record Collector Magazine
This thoroughly absorbing look at the life and music of Rose Marie McCoy by Arlene Corsano was seeded on April 19, 2001, when the two first met on the occasion of Rose’s 79th birthday. The meeting had been engineered by songstress, Maxine Brown, a champion of Rose’s and singer of a number of her songs, who had suggested to Arlene that she write a newspaper article on Rose. In short order, it became apparent to Arlene just how unsung Rose Marie McCoy was, just how little had been written about her and the paucity of information available. And all this, despite the fact that this McCoy’s songs had been recorded by so many big name artists and had appeared on numerous chart listings. This was a wrong that needed to be righted, leading ultimately to this book. Through the course of some 178 pages - augmented by pages of recording artist and song details, etc. - we learn, through documentation interspersed with relevant song lyrics, how the young girl who grew up in poor surroundings in Arkansas, left home at the age of nineteen for the bright lights of New York City, with the intention of making her name as a singer. Working in a Chinese laundry by day and the clubs at night, when the opportunity to sing was not available, she would turn her hand to songwriting, sometimes solo and sometimes in collaboration, her most able partner in the latter being one Charlie Singleton. (Their biggest break came when Elvis Presley recorded their ‘Trying To Get To You’ for his first album for RCA Records in 1955.) Something of a feisty lass, a trait that would stand her in good stead over time, over the years Rose’s songs were picked by by jazz greats such as Nat King Cole, Jimmy Scott and Sarah Vaughan and soulsters like Jackie Wilson and Ike & Tina Turner - ‘It’s Gonna Work Out Fine’ was one of Rose’s songs. But don’t let me prècis the story for you here. Grab this book and read it for yourself! (Sadly, since posting the original review, news came of Rose Marie McCoy’s passing on January 20, 2015, after a lengthy fight against pneumonia.) David Cole for The Soul Basement www.thesoulbasement.com
Important enough for the Smithsonian but not the Songwriters Hall of Fame?
Rose Marie McCoy is part of the Smithsonian's newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. Her picture and a brief bio is part of an interactive display and is connected to her Ike & Tina Turner's hit, "I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine."
But when will the Songwriters Hall of Fame recognize the accomplishments of this legendary writer? To help this organization realize its oversight, please sign the e-petition that can be accessed by going to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rose-marie-mccoy-songwriters-hall-of-fame. Unfortunately, the petitions site is asking for donations and has caused some confusion. DONATIONS ARE NOT NECESSARY TO SIGN THE PETITION.
On Tuesdays, from 7-10 p.m. New Orleans time, a fabulous rhythm & blues show can be heard on www.wwoz.org hosted by Neil Pellegrin.