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2022 Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award

Honoring the finest books on popular music from around the world, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, and The Pop Conference have announced the 2022 Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award shortlist.  

Fifteen works selected showcasing the exciting and diverse landscape of writing on popular music from books on blues, hip-hop, and rock to historical analysis, a biography, and two autobiographies 

The Shortlist

Chosen from nearly 70 works, this year’s shortlist is comprised of fifteen books that are diverse in scope and range from books on blues and rock to historical analysis, a biography, and two autobiographies. The shortlist revealed at the Pop Conference “When I Think of Home: Race & Borders in Popular Music” (hosted by the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music) includes: 

  • The Blues: The Authentic Narrative of My Music and Culture by Chris Thomas King 

  • Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South by Regina N. Bradley 

  • Freedom Girls: Voicing Femininity in 1960s British Pop by Alexandra M. Apolloni 

  • God Rock, Inc.: The Business of Niche Music by Andrew Mall 

  • Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of an American Troubadour by Rickie Lee Jones  

  • Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound by Daphne A. Brooks 

  • Roadrunner by Joshua Clover  

  • Singing Like Germans: Black Musicians in the Land of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms by Kira Thurman 

  • Songbooks: The Literature of American Popular Music by Eric Weisbard 

  • Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen: One Dime at a Time by Susan Delson  

  • Soundscapes of Liberation: African American Music in Postwar France by Celeste Day Moore 

  • The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl 

  • 'Turn Me Loose, White Man,' or: Appropriating Culture: How to Listen to American Music, 1900-1960, Volume 2 by Allen Lowe 

  • Who Got the Camera? A History of Rap and Reality by Eric Harvey 

  • You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike



The Shortlist

Visuals: Maksaens Denis

The Shortlist

Visuals: Maksaens Denis
about the award

The award aims to encourage more publishing and reading of books about popular music from all over the world and to showcase the combination of passionate writing and scholarship across journalism and academia, which marked pioneer music critic Ralph J. Gleason’s work. A prize of $10,000 will be shared by the winners, underwritten through the Wenner Journalism Fund. 

Ralph Gleason was a highly perceptive critic of jazz, pop, and rock music whose words withstand the passage of time and perceived the importance of artists like Bob Dylan and Miles Davis. He cofounded Rolling Stone magazine, was one of the first mainstream writers to cover the mid-1960’s San Francisco music scene, pushed the San Francisco Chronicle into the rock era, and cofounded the Monterey Jazz Festival. 
In 1990 the award’s original sponsors were Rolling Stone, BMI, and New York University. Its new incarnation is administered by an advisory board representing the Pop Conference, in conjunction with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and NYU’s Clive Davis Institute.

A shortlist of the best music books of 2021 has been unveiled at the Pop Conference in New York City (see above), with winners to be announced in June. A prize of $10,000 will be shared by the winners, underwritten through the generosity of the Wenner Journalism Fund. 

about the advisory board

The Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award advisory board is chaired by writer Holly George-Warren, and includes writers RJ Smith, Carl Wilson (Slate), Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music/NYU Chair Jason King, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame VP of Education Jason Hanley, and academics Kimberly Mack (University of Toledo) and Eric Weisbard (University of Alabama). Judges will rotate yearly. This year’s judges are:

Laina Dawes
Nelson George
Alisha Lola Jones
Greil Marcus
Amanda Petrusich

The advisory board would also like to acknowledge the passing of Greg Tate – writer, musician, and co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition – who was part of this project and had agreed to serve as one of the inaugural judges. His powerful writing reminds us that music matters and is always in dialogue with the world around us.

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