Amazing Grace by Steve Turner
The Story of America's Most Beloved Song

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Synopsis

Behind our most beloved hymn is a fascinating story spanning continents, cultures, and centuries. Inspired by the way "Amazing Grace" continues to change and grow in popularity, acclaimed music writer Steve Turner embarks on a journey to trace the life of the hymn, from Olney, England, where it was written by former slave trader John Newton, to tiny Plantain Island off the coast of Africa, where Newton was held captive for almost a year, to the Kentucky-Tennessee border and other parts of the South, where the hymn first began to spread.

Newton had been rescued from Africa by a merchant ship when, during an eleven-hour storm on the Atlantic, he converted to Christianity. Years later, as a minister, he wrote the hymn for use among his congregation. Through the nineteenth century, "Amazing Grace" appeared in more and more hymn books, and in the twentieth century it rose to a gospel and folk standard before exploding into pop music. It has been recorded by artists as varied as Elvis Presley, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Tiny Tim, Al Green, Johnny Cash, Rod Stewart, Chet Baker, and Destiny's Child. Amazing Grace closely examines this modern history of the hymn through personal interviews with recording artists.

From John Newton's incredible life story to the hymn's role in American spirituality and culture, Amazing Grace is an illuminating, thorough, and unprecedented musical history.

 

About Steve Turner

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Steve Turner is a British rock journalist and author of more than thirty books, including The Man Called Cash, Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Beloved Song, and A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song. He lives in London.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography, Religion & Spirituality, Humor & Entertainment, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Turner suggests that his guilt about being involved in the slave trade came long after the 1748 storm at sea during which Newton encountered God’s grace, soon to be immortalized in his hymn.

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Publishers Weekly

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From the song's early 20th-century popularity in gospel music to its adoption by folk singers in the 1950s, from Judy Collins's hit single in the early 1970s to openly secular interpretations by artists and writers such as Allen Ginsberg, the central historical paradox of Newton's specifically re...

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