Reviewer Michelle Kaye Malsbury:
Michelle was born in Champaign, IL. Currently, she resides in Asheville, NC
and is in her second year of doctoral studies at Nova Southeastern
University in Ft. Lauderdale with specialization/concentration in
conflict resolution and peace studies. She has over six hundred
articles published on the web and one book published thus far with
many more in the wings. Hobbies include; reading, writing, music, and
playing with her Australian Cattle Dog, Abu.
Authors: Shirley King and Dave Smitherman,
Publisher: Bear Manor Media
Shirley King, author of Love Is King,is the daughter of BB King. BB King is, and was, a Blue’s legend. He worked hard, traveled across the country when getting across the country was not as easy as it is today and had quite a few children. Shirley always wanted to be just like her dad. She loved to watch him sing and work the crowds. This is her memoir of their life and times together.
The opening chapter begins with Shirley’s first concert after the passing of her father. Naturally, she is a bit melancholy. She was singing in Nashville at a place called the Printer’s Alley that she describes as “…New Orlean’s style…”. (2017, p.1) She ordered a blue something or other to calm her mind from dwelling on her father’s death. Once on stage she was every bit the professional her father was singing many of his songs and playing to the mid-week crowd.
In Chapter two Shirley writes about her birth on October 26th, 1949 at 5 am. She was born in a rural community in Arkansas named Gilmore. According to Shirley it is about a half hour outside of West Memphis. Her mother Mary was never married to BB King, but they worked hard to maintain a family type atmosphere for Shirley. Shirley lived with Mary the majority of the time and then spent time with BB as often as he was in town.
BB was born in Berclair, Mississippi in 1925. His parents were Albert and Nora. Albert worked on a plantation. BB married a woman by the name of Martha Denton and started off his singing carrier, as many other black singers did, singing gospel music. Eventually he got a radio spot in West
Memphis and moved there. His career was filled with upward momentum.
Eventually, Mary met and married a man by the name of Curtis Lee Gilmer. He became Shirley’s step father. As she states, “He was very good to me and my mother. He had a nice job, and that meant Mama only had to do odd jobs to pick up extra money, like occasionally cooking, since she enjoyed that so much.” (2017, p.15)
Shirley moved in with the King family when she was young and continued to live with them for the majority of her youth into high school. She visited her mother and step father in the summer each year. Quarters were close at the King home and Shirley became accustomed to taking charge of the younger children as they were born. Some of the uncles began to take an interest in Shirley as she bloomed into puberty. She was uncomfortable with this. When Shirley was about seventeen the family moved to Gardner, California and she attended John C. Freemont High School.
There are pictures and posters from various concerts that help drive home how close Shirley was with her father and how spellbound she was with becoming a singer too. Her life was not all a bed of roses, but being the daughter of BB King was a huge step up in the music world.
Without giving more of this book away I suggest you read it yourself. I enjoyed it and believe you will too.