Shout, Sister, Shout! Ten Girl Singers Who Shaped a Century

Illustrated with black-and-white photographs.
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2002. Ages 12 and up.
Paperback: 9781416963912 $12.95
In these mini-biographies of ten pop-music divas, one from each decade, the author looks at how the singers influenced popular music and mirrored—or challenged—the spirit of their times. From Sophie Tucker to Judy Garland to Joan Baez to Madonna, these are all ambitious, independent, pioneering women, who lived the idea expressed in Bessie Smith’s song: “If I should take a notion/ To jump into the ocean /’Tain’t nobody’s bizness if I do.”
Reviews
“A rockin' new book … This read has a little something for every music lover … But most of all, it’s inspiring.” —Girls’ Life
“Ms. Orgill’s revelatory yet tactful and nonjudgmental style makes her book a good intro to pop-music history for readers young and old.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Her theme—to the extent that a survey diverse enough to encompass Ma Rainey, Ethel Merman, and Anita O'Day can be said to have one—is female empowerment. These are not just “terrific singers whose voices I wanted to listen to over and over,” Orgill explains; they are also women who “took charge of their lives” and “went about their own business, regardless of what other people said or did.” —The New York Times
Awards and Honors
American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults
Parent’s Guide Children’s Media Award
New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age
Excerpt
The cast of teenagers was assembled in costume, on a trolley. The crew was ready to shoot the scene. But one actress was missing, the figure around whom the whole scene would revolve. Twenty-one-year-old Judy Garland was in her dressing room, refusing to come out. Actress Mary Astor, who was playing Judy’s mother, knocked on Judy’s door. “Judy, what’s happened to you? You were a trooper—once,” she said.
Judy didn’t reply.
“You have kept the entire company out there waiting for two hours,” Mary continued. “Waiting for you to favor us with your presence. You know we’re stuck—there’s nothing we can do without you.”
Judy giggled and said she had heard that from others in the cast.
“Well, then, either get the hell on set or I’m going home,” Miss Astor shouted.
Eventually Judy did emerge, and played one of her best scenes, in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). Judy’s riding the trolley with her friends when the boy she is crazy about hops aboard, which causes her to burst into song, “Zing, zing, zing went my heart strings.” Her bright voice sounds at once breathless and secure. Her brown button eyes are shining and she glides through the trolley car. Anyone watching can’t take his or her eyes off of her.
Copyright 2014-, Roxane Orgill. All rights reserved.