Before Hollywood: Film & Music History in Florida

Capouya, John. Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band. Univ. Pr. of Florida. Sept. 2017. 374p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813054520. $24.95. MUSIC
Capouya (journalism & writing, Univ. of Tampa; Gorgeous George) adds a significant entry to the scholarship on soul music with this title. He maintains that the state of Florida made valuable contributions to soul, on par with notable soul capitals such as Memphis, Detroit, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Capouya provides 20 profiles of exceptional Floridian soul musicians, ranging from the obscure (Linda Lyndell, Wayne Cochran, Frankie Gearing) to the popular (Ray Charles, Sam Moore of Sam & Dave, KC and the Sunshine Band). Throughout these profiles, a portrait of how racial segregation and post–Civil Rights Act integration in Florida affected both black and white musicians emerges. Because many of his subjects are spread widely across the state, Capouya’s thesis about Florida as a soul capital falters slightly. If there is one figurehead, it is Henry Stone, the owner of TK Productions, whose session players included hit makers Timmy Thomas, Latimore, Betty Wright, Little Beaver, and Chocolate Perry. Because of the sheer number of profiles, this volume is slow going at times, and a selected discography would have been useful. VERDICT Recommended for those already well versed in the history of soul looking to learn more; especially essential for libraries in Florida.—Brian Flota, James Madison Univ., Harrisonburg, VA

Graham, Thomas. Silent Films in St. Augustine. Univ. Pr. of Florida. Sept. 2017. 198p. photos. filmog. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813054537. $24.95. FILM
Before there was Hollywood, there was an incipient “First Hollywood,” beginning at the end of the 19th century in Jacksonville, FL, and amply documented by Shawn Bean in his 2008 monograph, The First Hollywood: Florida and the Golden Age of Silent Filmmaking. But, St. Augustine, FL, too, had an early crack at becoming America’s film center when, in the first decade of the 20th century, films were made in the state’s oldest city. More than 120 motion pictures were produced in St. Augustine between 1906 and 1926, and many of Hollywood’s famous silent film stars including Ethel Barrymore, Theda Bara, Sidney Drew, Evelyn Nesbitt, Norma Talmadge, Edith Story, Oliver Hardy, and scores of others made their early pictures there. Narrating the vicissitudes of the multiple production companies and producers who set up shop in St. Augustine, Graham (emeritus, history, Flagler Coll., FL) elucidates a very important part of moviemaking history. This slim volume includes a filmography as well as a list of actors who appeared in these movies. VERDICT Recommended to both specialists and general readers of American film history as well as those who want to know more about Florida and the city of St. ­Augustine.—Herbert E. Shapiro, Lifelong Learning Soc., Florida Atlantic Univ., Boca Raton

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