The Quintessence of American Popular Music
Arthur Kempton
The much-anticipated paperback edition of Arthur Kempton's story on the art, influence, and commerce of Black American popular music


Arthur Kempton was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and received a B.A. in English from Harvard. He has been a radio disk jockey, deputy superintendent of Boston's public school system, and an educational consultant. A frequent contributor to New York Review of Books, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Praise / Awards

  • "From Thomas A. Dorsey and gospel to Sam Cooke and the classic age of boogaloo ("soul") to George Clinton and hip hop, this comprehensive analysis of African-American popular music is a deep and gorgeous meditation on its aesthetics and business."
    —Henry Louis Gates, Jr. W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, Harvard

  • "An eloquent approach to the politics and historical significance of pop-culture. . . ."
    Library Bookwatch

  • "Any who would understand the foundations and early influences of American popular music can't miss Boogaloo: The Quintessence of American Popular Music. . . . A 'must' for any comprehensive music collection."
    Midwest Book Review

  • "[A] grand and sweeping survey of the history of soul music in America....One of the best books of music journalism so far this year."
    Publishers Weekly

  • ". . . the much-anticipated paperback edition of Kempton's story on the art, influence, and commerce of Black American popular music. This readable and brilliant history succeeds in conveying the sweep of the topic as well as providing detailed portraits of the key players."

  • "Kempton's example resoundingly shows how the racial divide can be breached by a writer to whom nothing human is alien. Surpassingly sympathetic and probing attention to all the most fraught aspects of his subject shows how much he is able to shed his skin."
    —Luc Sante, The New York Review of Books

  • "A fascinating and often original addition to the extensive literature."
    The Times Literary Supplement

  • "Kudos to Mr. Kempton for a finely crafted text. If you are at all interested in the development of American popular music and culture, this is definitely one for the library."
    Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Product Details

  • 6.125 x 9.25.
  • 480pp.
See Sales Restrictions

Sales Restrictions

Our edition is unavailable in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom


  • Paper
  • 2005
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03087-3

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  • $22.95 U.S.