- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry turned 85 years old on 2011 October 18. Berry, a born showman, began entertaining his family at an early age with his one-legged duck walk and playing music in front of audiences in high school. He still plays concerts, including monthly performances in his hometown of St Louis, Missouri at the Blueberry Hill Duck Room.
In 1955 his knowledge of and passion for country music fused with rhythm and blues landed him mainstream success with his cover of Bob Wills’ "Ida Red" (Berry’s version is entitled "Maybellene"). The following year, "Roll Over Beethoven" hit #29 on the Billboard top 100 chart and Berry’s career was in full swing.
With more than a few run-ins with the law and time spent in prison, Berry’s life has come to epitomize the rock and roll lifestyle. He is among the first musicians inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he is considered by many to be the "Father of Rock and Roll."
The San José Public Library has a variety of recordings and books by and about Chuck Berry and the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies features Chuck Berry’s song "Roll Over Beethoven" in their exhibit “America’s Beethoven” running from 2011 October 1 through December 21.
Happy Birthday, Zora Neale Hurston!
January 7, 1891, Zora Neale Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama, although, she often declared her birthplace to be Eatonville, Florida, where her family eventually moved when she was three years old.
Throughout her life and career Hurston referred back to her life spent growing up in Eatonville, one of the first all-black towns incorporated into the United States and where her father served as mayor.
Hurston was a folklorist and anthropologist who was associated with the Harlem Renaissance. She traveled in the Caribbean and southern United States as part of her work and interest in preserving the rich culture she grew up in. Her work is often written in a distinct African American dialect that was both praised and criticized.
Although Hurston died relatively poor in 1960 and her work later fell into obscurity, Alice Walker helped bring about a resurgence of interest in Hurston's work. In 1975 Walker published an article on Hurston in Ms. Magazine, which is available in Walker's book, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose.