Celebrating African-American Music is the title of storyteller John Thornley's mid-year Vinyl Talks.
On the first Sunday for three months at Palmerston North City Library, he will cover blues (July 4), soul (August 1) and gospel (September 5) in three one-hour sessions.
Thornley has grown up with rock music, starting in the 1950s when he was a teenager. "This is pre-Beatles days when the five founding voices were Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. Only Lewis is still alive and Google informs me he's not on schedule for any touring this year!"
A focus on the music and story of Black music has been central to Thornley's rock music interests.
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"The roots of so much rock lies in Black musicking, from spirituals to hip-hop. Both the styles and subject matter are the founding blocks for the House of Rock."
Thornley loves the metaphorical and symbolic poetry of African-American music, especially blues and gospel, two sides of the same coin. Thornley, who is a lay preacher in the Methodist church, likes to say the secular and spiritual come together in the music.
In his working life, Thornley has been an editor, teacher, and community worker, and these diverse experiences find a place in exploring and sharing the many levels of meaning found in popular music.
This is the third series co-organised by the city library Vinyl Club. Sound is provided by Manawatū People's Radio (MPR).
"I'm grateful for the support of the library and MPR, for a central-city venue and sound gear that does justice to the high-quality sounds of vinyl recordings," Thornley says.
The voice of Thornley is heard weekly on MPR, as host of the Wesley Broadway programme. Coming shows will feature blues, soul and gospel tracks, giving listeners a taste of what is to come in the library series. The Wesley Broadway show plays at 11am each Tuesday and Saturday, on 999AM.
What: Vinyl Talks
When: Sunday, July 4, 2-3pm
Where: Mezzanine floor, Palmerston North Central Library
Tickets: Free entry