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

By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music
by Carole Boston Weatherford; illus. by Bryan Collier
Primary    Atheneum    48 pp.
1/20    978-1-5344-2636-8    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-2637-5    $10.99

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.

From the January/February 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Eboni Njoku
Eboni Njoku is a children’s librarian at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library Branch of the DC Public Library.

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