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Read of the Week: I’ll Take You There

An interesting phenomenon over the last decade has been the proliferation of well-written and interesting Nonfiction books. One of the theories about this relates to the dying field of journalism. As newspapers go out of business and less and less journalists can make a living working in journalism, they are using their skills to write Nonfiction books instead. It makes sense that the same skill set required to be an investigative journalist transfer well to writing Nonfiction books. If Michael Lewis and Laura Hillenbrand had lived in an earlier time they might have been the Woodward and Bernstein of their day.

Greg Kot is a successful journalist here in Chicago and works as the music critic for the Chicago Tribune. Like many journalists he has branched out to survive. He also works in radio, is half of the very popular podcast Sound Opinions, and has become a writer of Nonfiction books. I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom’s Highway is Kot’s latest effort and tells the life story of one of Chicago’s greatest treasures, Mavis Staples.

This is a well-written and easy-to-read book that is often inspirational. It is amazing to read how Mavis Staples’ life has intersected with so many historical events and people. Her great grandfather was a slave.  She was part of the Great Migration. She sang songs and marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King. Some of the people and places mentioned in the book include Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Steve Cropper and Stax Studios, Muscle Shoals Studio, Prince, and Jeff Tweedy. It’s fascinating to see how her life has evolved from being a star in the Gospel circuit, to being a huge part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, a pop star in the 1970s, and now she’s become a darling of the indie rock crowd. She is still performing to new audiences who become captivated when they hear her amazing and unique voice.

This is a biography that anyone should be able to enjoy given the fascinating life Mavis Staples has lived so far.

You can place a hold on the book in the Deerfield Public Library catalog right now. For additional popular music biographies, check out “You Might Also Like These…” at the bottom of the book’s catalog page.

This review was previously published by the Deerfield Review.

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