I Got Thunder: Black Women Songwriters On Their Craft

Book Reviews | Apr 13th, 2008

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Author: LaShonda Katrice Barnett
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Genre: Music/African-American Studies
Pages: 330
Retail Price: 9.99
Buy on Amazon.com link

I’m probably not qualified to review this – not because I’m a white Jewish punk kid and the appeal of Dionne Warwick escapes me, but because I’m not familiar with many of the subjects in this collection of interviews. But a great interview (like a great CD or film review) can transcend lack of interest in and knowledge of the subject, and provide, through insightful writing and engaging exchange, that knowledge and interest.

I wouldn’t say Barnett consistently succeeds. Many of the questions are of the bland “What comes first – the melody or the lyric? What inspired this song? What is your songwriting process like?” variety. But there are a number of conversations that take interesting turns, particularly when Barnett and her interviewee turn away from music and toward race, culture, and gender politics. The interviews with Chaka Khan and Nina Simone are especially interesting in that regard.

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