“My life is a sermon inside a song. / I’ll sing it for you. Won’t take long”—so begins author Carole Boston Weatherford’s moving, rhyming narration of Charles Albert Tindley’s life, the man known as the father of gospel music.
Told from Tindley’s perspective, young readers learn he was born to an enslaved father and a free mother, sparing him a life of slavery. But Tindley’s life wasn’t easy. His mother died when he was 7 years old and he was hired out to farmers to work in the fields along with slaves. Despite the hardships he encountered, Tindley’s experience in the fields shaped his future as he listened to the slaves sing spirituals: “Spirituals, first Bible that I heard. / I yearned for more—to read the Word.”
Tindley had no formal education, yet he taught himself to read by deciphering the words on the newsprint that papered the walls of his home. As he matured, Tindley “vowed to learn one thing each day, / Trusting God to lead my way.” God did lead Tindley as he studied for the ministry and became an ordained preacher. Tindley gave God the credit for his success as a preacher and for allowing him to learn the spirituals as a child, which informed the way he composed gospel music of his own.
Illustrator Bryan Collier’s detailed, superb watercolor and collage pictures complement this book’s God-glorifying text. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)