The perfect primer for young music lovers, Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country and Western Music is certain to inspire a new generation of listeners. This introduction to a group of revered American artists reads like a who's-who of the country genre. Author Holly George-Warren, who contributed to The Encyclopedia of Country Music, has created an eye-catching volume that will appeal to readers of all ages. The book begins with folk music pioneers the Carter Family and ends, appropriately enough, with country legend Johnny Cash, whose melting pot of American musical styles, George-Warren says, embodies the sound called country &andamp; western music. All told, the book covers 15 singers, as well as the range of musical categories encompassed by country, including Western Swing, country blues and bluegrass.

Each artist's story has been skillfully distilled into an easy-to-absorb, single-page summary, and the mini-biography form makes for fun and instructive reading. From the flamboyant Buck Owens, to country music's First Lady, Loretta Lynn, to mandolin maestro Bill Monroe, all the most important artists are here. Artist Laura Levine contributes colorful portraits of each singer. Homespun, folksy paintings that in their simplicity, charm and naivetŽ bring to mind the work of Grandma Moses, the pictures provide the perfect accent to George-Warren's informative, no-frills prose. Levine and George-Warren have a previous collaboration to their credit, the well-received picture book Shake, Rattle, and Roll: The Founders of Rock and Roll (2001). With the addition of Honky-Tonk Heroes, they have produced a pair of a collector's items for present and future fans of American music. Almost as good as a trip to the Grand Ole Opry, Honky-Tonk Heroes successfully translates and celebrates the soul of country music.

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