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By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

At a time when most African Americans were still enslaved, Charles Tindley was born free. His childhood was far from easy, with backbreaking hours in the fields and no opportunity to go to school. But the spirituals he heard as he worked made him long to know how to read the Gospel for himself. Late at night, he taught himself to read from scraps of newspapers. From those small scraps, young Charles raised himself to become a founding father of American gospel music whose hymn was the basis for the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”

Told in lilting verse with snippets of spirituals and Tindley’s own hymns woven throughout, Carole Boston Weatherford’s lyrical words and Bryan Collier’s luminous pictures celebrate a man whose music and conviction has inspired countless lives.

Author’s note. Illustrator’s note. Popular hymns by Charles Tindley. Bibliography. Resources. Songs quoted in the book. Full-color watercolor and collage illustrations.

ISBN: 9781534426368

JLG Release: Mar 2020


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Charles Albert Tindley (1851–1933) , Biography , Methodist Church , Clergy , US hymn writers , Gospel music , African American history

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Booklist*, Publishers Weekly, The Horn Book Magazine, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

Weatherford traces Charles Tindley’s life (1851–1933), from his impoverished childhood to his move North as part of the Great Migration to his legacy as an influential minister and gospel music writer. The pastor is best known for “I’ll Overcome Some Day,” which inspired the historic protest anthem “We Shall Overcome.” Tindley, born i Weatherford traces Charles Tindley’s life (1851–1933), from his impoverished childhood to his move North as part of the Great Migration to his legacy as an influential minister and gospel music writer. The pastor is best known for “I’ll Overcome Some Day,” which inspired the historic protest anthem “We Shall Overcome.” Tindley, born in 1851, was the son of an enslaved father and a free mother who died when Tindley was young. Hearing spirituals in the work fields motivated Tindley to learn how to read the Bible. The first-person narrative highlights his appetite for education and his unwavering faith. The rhyming text uses a hymn-like structure. The watercolor and collage illustrations, peppered with images of Tindley’s sheet music, provide a vibrant and meaningful backdrop for the story of the composer’s life, presented as “a sermon inside a song.” The rhyming device causes some of the text to be less straightforward than it could be, using expressions like “donned the robe” to describe Tindley becoming a pastor. Young readers may need support to comprehend some of the more nuanced vocabulary terms. However, this stylistic choice is effective as it conveys the importance of lyrics in Tindley’s life and ministry. This beautiful volume will make an excellent addition to biography collections and broaden available resources for black history studies in elementary and middle school classrooms.

Horn Book

Born to a free mother in 1851 Maryland, Charles Albert Tindley was technically considered free. However, the law didn’t protect him from the hardship of laboring alongside farmhands and enslaved people. Toiling in the fields, young Charles was introduced to Negro spirituals and the gospel behind them. The desire to know more about his faith led T Born to a free mother in 1851 Maryland, Charles Albert Tindley was technically considered free. However, the law didn’t protect him from the hardship of laboring alongside farmhands and enslaved people. Toiling in the fields, young Charles was introduced to Negro spirituals and the gospel behind them. The desire to know more about his faith led Tindley to become self-educated, learning to read from scraps of newspapers and walking miles to receive lessons from anyone who would teach him. His drive continued after he moved to Philadelphia, taking night classes while working multiple jobs. His tenacity ultimately provided Tindley the opportunity to act as pastor for the church in which he’d once worked as a janitor. Throughout his journey, Tindley also penned gospel songs, which added to his legacy as the “prince of preachers.” Weatherford’s first-person, somewhat singsong-y rhyming narrative includes italicized lines from Tindley’s hymns (some of which also appear in the art), further emphasizing the preacher’s foundation in his faith. Collier’s watercolor and collage images beautifully reflect the man’s life and times, from the wide expanse of emerald-hued fields in which Tindley labored as a child and the bright blue sky above, to luminous, larger-than-life portraits of him orating as an adult. Back matter includes author and illustrator notes, titles of popular hymns by Tindley, a bibliography, additional resources, and titles of songs quoted throughout the book.

Book Details

ISBN

9781534426368

First Release

March 2020

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

B

Trim Size

9" x 12"

Page Count

48

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

Level 580L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Atheneum

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Charles Albert Tindley (1851–1933), Biography, Methodist Church, Clergy, US hymn writers, Gospel music, African American history,

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