Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus


Author Krin Gabbard sets aside the myth-making around bassist Charles Mingus to argue that he created a unique language of emotions—and not just in music. After exploring the most important events in Mingus’s life, Gabbard’s book takes a careful look at Mingus as a writer as well as a composer and musician. Classically trained and of mixed race, he was an outspoken innovator on his instrument as well as a bandleader, composer, producer, and record-label owner. His autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, shaped the image of Mingus as a wild man, an idiosyncratic musical genius with a penchant for skirt-chasing and violent outbursts—but also reveals that he was a hopeless romantic. Gabbard digs into how and why Mingus chose to do so much self-analysis, how he worked to craft his racial identity in a world that saw him simply as “black,” and how his mental and physical health problems shaped his career. This talk will be of interest to anyone who cares about jazz, African American history, and the artist’s life.

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