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Extended Audio Sample Tambourines to Glory, by Langston Hughes Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (67 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Langston Hughes Narrator: Myra Lucretia Taylo Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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For every bustling jazz joint that opened in Korean War–era Harlem, a new church seemed to spring up. Tambourines to Glory introduces you to an unlikely team behind a church whose rock was the curb at 126th and Lenox.

Essie Belle Johnson and Laura Reed live in adjoining tenement flats, adrift on public relief. Essie wants to somehow earn enough money to reunite with her daughter and provide her with a nice home; Laura loves young men, mink coats, and fine Scotch. On a day of inspiration, the friends decide to use a thrift-store tambourine and a layaway Bible to start a church.

Their sidewalk services are a hit: Laura’s a natural street performer who loves the limelight, while Essie is a charismatic singer with a quiet spirituality. Before long they move to a thousand-seat theatre called the Tambourine Temple. The two women are joined in their ministering by Birdie Lee, the little-old-lady trap drummer who can work the congregation to a feverish pitch, and Deacon Crow-For-Day, an impassioned confessor.

But then Laura falls for Buddy, a scam artist who suggests selling to the faithful lucky numbers from Scripture and bottles of tap water as “Holy Water from the Jordan.” Even with a Cadillac and piles of money from Laura, Buddy won’t stay faithful, igniting a crime of passion and betrayal.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Hughes, a preeminent member of the Harlem Renaissance, has populated this story with a wonderfully expressive cast of characters. Taylor not only brings them to life, she imbues them with spirit and verve.” 


Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Efundunke | 10/22/2012

    " Sometimes the spirit dies before the flesh. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jocelyn | 2/22/2012

    " Really enjoyed this! Well written, interesting, great character development. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Aziza | 5/16/2010

    " I read the play and thoroughly enjoyed it but they don't have the play listed. I do know that the novel and play are slightly different. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Babydoll | 12/30/2009

    " Langston Hughes proves from this book, that was intended to be a play, that he is such a talented writer. Set in Harlem, Hughes introduces the reader to the two main characters Essie and Laura. Although this is a rather quick read, Hughes provides the reader with an enjoyable novel/playwright. "

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