Cover: Stagolee Shot Billy, from Harvard University PressCover: Stagolee Shot Billy in PAPERBACK

Stagolee Shot Billy

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Product Details

PAPERBACK

$24.50 • £19.95 • €22.00

ISBN 9780674016262

Publication Date: 09/30/2004

Academic Trade

304 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

5 halftones, 1 line illustration

World

Although his story has been told countless times—by performers from Ma Rainey, Cab Calloway, and the Isley Brothers to Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, and Taj Mahal—no one seems to know who Stagolee really is. Stack Lee? Stagger Lee? He has gone by all these names in the ballad that has kept his exploits before us for over a century. Delving into a subculture of St. Louis known as “Deep Morgan,” Cecil Brown emerges with the facts behind the legend to unfold the mystery of Stack Lee and the incident that led to murder in 1895.

How the legend grew is a story in itself, and Brown tracks it through variants of the song “Stack Lee”—from early ragtime versions of the ’20s, to Mississippi John Hurt’s rendition in the ’30s, to John Lomax’s 1940s prison versions, to interpretations by Lloyd Price, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett, right up to the hip-hop renderings of the ’90s. Drawing upon the works of James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison, Brown describes the powerful influence of a legend bigger than literature, one whose transformation reflects changing views of black musical forms, and African Americans’ altered attitudes toward black male identity, gender, and police brutality. This book takes you to the heart of America, into the soul and circumstances of a legend that has conveyed a painful and elusive truth about our culture.

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As students around the world deliberate their options for further education, only made more challenging in a pandemic, we’re reminded that getting in is only half the battle. In The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, Anthony Abraham Jack asks how—and why—do disadvantaged students struggle at elite colleges? What can schools can do differently if these students are to thrive? As back to school season begins, we spoke to two university book clubs that read and discussed The Privileged Poor this summer.