Hey America! Black Music and the Whitehouse
The Epic Story of Soul Music and the Presidents
About the Book
Hey America! unearths the untold story of how successive presidents and their most senior aides recruited pop, rock and soul musicians to campaign for their election and help shape and represent public policy (often with disastrous consequences). It reveals a remarkable roller-coaster of social change and shifting attitudes to teenage music: from the moral backlash against fifties rock ’n’ roll and, later, rap and heavy metal to the explosion of soul music in the civil rights era.
It is the story of how black music came from the margins of American life in the early twentieth century through to the mainstream under Barack Obama's presidency and then was mobilised as a force for radical opposition to Donald Trump's administration. Embedded in the story is the cataclysmic shift of public attitudes through which African-American music triumphed over the many forces that had held it back - racism, undercapitalised record labels, media discrimination and the dominance of forms of music that had themselves drawn heavily on the African-American experience.
Hey America! is organised around ideas and powerful stories rather than a linear narrative: opening with President Obama's tribute to Prince, the author takes us through the spat between Louis Armstrong and President Eisenhower, Elvis offering his services as a special agent, the hounding of John Lennon, Michael Jackson's flirtations with the Reagan presidency, Bono's clash with George W. Bush, the Washington Wives versus 'porn rock', Kanye West’s announcement that he would be running for presidency and many, many others. The book concludes with the dramatic stand-off between Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement.
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