Friday 25 July 2008

Book Review- T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New

Written as a series of short biographies, T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New by Rhetta Akamatsu, is a revealing peak into the characters of memorable women in the world of blues music. After giving a short introduction into the background of the blues, the author lets us glimpse into the lives of the women that sang the music. She takes the reader from the early days of singers carving out the industry, to the ladies of today that still carry the blues legacy. Each biography is complemented with photos, quotes, selected song lyrics and footnotes.

It is quite obvious from the first sentence that the author knows her subject, and has an affection for the blues. Ms. Akamatsu has done her research, infusing the book with absorbing facts, while maintaining a lively, entertaining pace and feel to the book.

It is a captivating look into music history, and in her writing style she manages to capture the essence of the blues era at its heyday. The book is written with atmosphere that clearly invokes both a time and a lifestyle. Even when writing of the modern blues musicians, the legacy is never far away.

She writes:

“Of course, this was a hard-drinking, hardloving, hard-fighting life, and a woman had to be tough. Many of the women blues singers were tall, big-boned, and quick with temper and fist. All of them could stand up for themselves. There were no shrinking violets among the early blues women.”

And here she paints a vivid picture:

“They spent lots of time roughing it on the road, playing in juke joints and bars, or in tents in the middle of fields. They traveled in overcrowded, broken down trucks and cars, or on buses and trains. They ate at the backdoors of restaurants and in alleys, or at eating establishments for blacks only, and they slept in the homes of relatives or friends or in black boarding houses (many of which did not cater to entertainers.) Sometimes they slept in the cars or trucks.”

Ms. Akamatsu opens the lives of these women for viewing, and never pulls any punches; she lays out the details, bad and good. All the pain, triumphs, blood and tears are arranged on the pages.

She pens:

“Janis wanted to be the living embodiment of Bessie Smith. She tried to act tough and free, but she was really vulnerable and insecure. She loved her Southern Comfort and she preached free love, but a world of pain came through in her voice.”

I highly recommend the book for anyone who likes a good read, but especially for fans of biographies, or music lovers.

Rhetta Akamatsu is a freelance writer, and author of Ghost to Coast, a paranormal handbook of ghost tours, paranormal investigation groups, and haunted hotels. She has also penned the craft recipe book for kids called Crafty Kids: Make Your Own Craft Recipes. You can find more information on these books as well as T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New on the website:

T’ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New is available on

1 comment:

Terri Molina said...

This sounds like a wonderful book! And definitely something I'd want to read. Thanks for the great review!

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