Rome Lewis is a veteran power forward with the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association. His game has begun to slip due to years of injuries, and rumor has it that the league is about to fold. With the ABA’s scorching stable of stars, which includes Dr. J, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, and Moses Malone, Rome realizes that he is a poor candidate for transition to the powerhouse NBA. With a wife and two small children to support, the last thing he needs is to become involved with a young girl named Rose.
But from the first moment of eye contact, a “knowing” passes between them that evolves into a timeless intimacy they choose not to question. Despite the guilt and secrecy of their infrequent meetings, their bond deepens until Rome’s professional world intrudes. His mid-season trade to the New York Nets franchise puts their love to the ultimate test—separation.
With the promise of daily letters, Rose remains in Louisville to care for her alcoholic father. To keep her spirits up, she spends time with her hard-partying friend Shelly, but slowly begins to realize the futility of loving a married man. As suddenly as it had begun, her all-consuming affair with Rome Lewis comes to its inevitable end.
But twenty years later, Rose still turns to Rome’s old letters each time one of those “somebody elses” fails to stir her emotions as he did. Unsure of the wisdom of her decision, she sets out on a dual mission. After hiring someone to locate Rome Lewis, she begins work on a new historical novel. Her characters grow eerily familiar as they wake her from sleep, demanding that she write their stories. And she realizes that they did not spring from her imagination, but from some unexplainable memories that live with blazing clarity in her mind. Unaware that her obsession with the novel is directly tied to her ongoing pursuit of Rome, she finds herself on two parallel journeys that unearth one unexpected answer.
Walker Smith writes in a unique blend of history, drama, and suspense, delivering the most unknown details of our history through the eyes of unforgettable characters. Her novels include: The Color Line, a Harlem Renaissance/World War I epic; Letters from Rome, a Sankofa journey from ancient Africa to Vietnam; and Bluestone Rondo, a racial Cain and Abel story set to modern jazz. Smith also collaborated with music industry giant Jack the Rapper Gibson on his biography Mello Yello.
Spain’s defeat leads directly to World War II. For the honor of Spain and self, Doc heads off to fight another war. Meanwhile, Pearl discovers the power of her voice and begins her own odyssey.
By 1946, the war is over and New York is sizzling with the sounds of bebop. Doc returns to find peace in the music, but everything changes when the band’s new singer walks into the club. Her voice is as deep and arresting as her dark eyes, and her name takes up residence in his mind. Pearl.
After a turbulent start, they ease into a healing love and claim Harlem as their small piece of America. But soon a new war is rumbling. As a deadly strain of heroin floods their streets, Doc is targeted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and Pearl falls under the scrutiny of a stalker with a badge. Doc learns that everything is linked, and must revisit a chilling question he still carries from Spain: What constitutes an act of war? And what is he prepared to do about it?
“A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don’t know how to live properly.” —Zadie Smith
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.
His long reaching influence began in 1949, when he and J.B. Blayton established the first black-owned radio station in the United States. As an emcee and promoter, he built enduring friendships with the early black royalty of the entertainment world, among them, Sammy Davis, Jr., Billie Holiday, Erroll Garner, Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole, Pearl Bailey, Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson, and Ray Charles.
When he was hired by Berry Gordy to head up promotion at a fledgling record company called Motown, Gibson befriended a new crop of stars, including Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and Smokey Robinson. Moving on to the Revelot label, and then to Stax, Gibson’s uncanny timing once again positioned him to further the careers of Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas and many others.
In addition to his involvement in the music scene, Gibson gave voice to the history as he lived it—covering the Civil Rights Movement, interviewing Malcolm X, and conducting a man-on-the-street report from Detroit as it burned following Dr. King’s assassination.
With the publication of his influential Black trade magazine called The Mello Yello, The Rapper established a forum for discussions and contributed to sweeping changes for African Americans in radio and the recording industry. But his most long-reaching achievement was his glittering “Family Affair”—an annual black music convention that provided a springboard for new talent. Each year, without fail, the heavy hitters of the music industry cleared their schedules to lend their talents to the Family Affair: Prince, Tina Turner, Nancy Wilson, Janet Jackson, James Brown, Whitney Houston, Eddie Murphy, Hammer, Toni Braxton, Sinbad, L.L. Cool J. And the list goes on like a “Who’s Who” of entertainment superstars.
After being honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, other accolades began to roll in from the United States Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and countless other organizations. But The Rapper wasn’t finished yet. With decades of stories and music still alive in his soul, he returned to his roots—radio. Nearly fifty years after his beginnings at WERD, Jack The Rapper’s voice once again crackled across the airwaves in Las Vegas, Nevada, proclaiming three simple words: “I’m still here.”