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Crazy Blues by Chuck Harris

Crazy Blues

by Chuck Harris

254 pages
The surprising success of a 1920 recording transforms the life of an unknown singer and her pianist and alters the course of American popular music.

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Category: Fiction:Historical
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About the Book
Crazy Blues: A Novel

One hundred years ago White singer Sophie Tucker came down with a cold. Unable to perform she begged out of an upcoming recording date. Wary of scrapping the session, OKeh Records executives reluctantly agreed to let Mamie Smith, a virtually unknown Negro singer, fill in.
That record, Crazy Blues, forever altered the trajectory of American popular music.

Mamie and her band were accidental pioneers, talented musicians who had inadvertently tapped into a previously unknown market: Black Americans eager to buy records made by “colored” artists. Within a few years, earnings from her recordings and the back-to-back tours that followed, made her an enormously wealthy woman, one who enjoyed a lavish lifestyle replete with multiple apartment buildings, an extensive wardrobe, and fine jewelry.

But life in 1920’s Harlem, even for the “Queen of the Blues,” was far from idyllic. Mamie, who had recently wed a white man, and Willie “the Lion” Smith, her biracial pianist and arranger, encountered death threats and attempts on their lives, as they pursued their respective careers. Soon Danny Walsh, an NYPD detective and jazz fan, would enter Mamie’s and Willie’s lives and become a key ally in their quest to navigate a hostile environment.

Though set in the Jazz Age, the themes of Crazy Blues: prejudice; violence against minorities; and triumph over adversity resonate with events playing our across America today.


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About the Author
A native of Syracuse, Chuck Harris earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University. He is the son and nephew of musicians who worked in 1920's Manhattan. He and his wife live in Northern Virginia. He is the father of two and the grandfather of five boys. Crazy Blues is his second novel.



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