Category: BIO004000

Florence Foster Jenkins

Darryl Bullock’s timely biography – delightfully cheering’ Alexander McCall Smith, Guardian

Madame Jenkins couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket: despite that, in 1944 at the age of 76, she played Carnegie Hall to a capacity audience and had celebrity fans by the score. Her infamous 1940s recordings are still highly-prized today. In his well-researched and thoroughly entertaining biography, Darryl W. Bullock tells of Florence Foster Jenkins meteoric rise to success and the man who stood beside her, through every sharp note.

Florence was ridiculed for her poor control of timing, pitch, and tone, and terrible pronunciation of foreign lyrics, but the sheer entertainment value of her caterwauling packed out theatres around the United States, with the ‘singer’ firmly convinced of her own talent, partly thanks to the devoted attention from her husband and manager St Clair Bayfield. Her story is one of triumph in the face of adversity, of courage, conviction and of the belief that with dedication and commitment a true artist can achieve anything.

With a major Hollywood movie about her life out now (starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg), the genius of Florence Foster Jenkins is about to be discovered by a whole new audience.

‘The first full biography of Foster Jenkins’ Clemency Burton-Hill, BBC

‘Listening to her pathetic bleating is something like eavesdropping on a padded cell inmate’ Billboard magazine

David Bowie Made Me Gay

From Sia to Elton John, Dusty Springfield to Little Richard, LGBT voices have changed the course of modern music. But in a world before they gained understanding and a place in the mainstream, how did the queer musicians of yesteryear fight to build foundations for those who would come after them?

Pulling back the curtain on the colourful legacy that has shaped all of our musical and cultural landscape, music aficionado and writer Darryl W. Bullock reveals the inspiring and often heart-breaking stories of internationally renowned stars, as well as numerous lesser-known names that have driven the revolution from all corners of the globe: those whose personal stories against the threat of persecution during decades of political and historical turmoil – including two world wars, Stonewall and the AIDS crisis – has led to some of the most significant and soul-searching music of the last century. Bullock chronicles these struggles through new interviews and archival reports, dating from the birth of jazz in the red-light district of New Orleans, through the rock ‘n’ roll years, Swinging Sixties and all-singing and all-dancing disco days of the ‘70s, right up to modern pop, electronica and reggae.

A treasure-trove of untold histories, David Bowie Made Me Gay is a moving and provocative story of the right to be heard and the need to keep the fight for equality in the spotlight.