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Book details
  • SubGenre:Siblings
  • Language:English
  • Pages:206
  • Hardcover ISBN:9781543977431

Annie Mae's Boys and Me

by Velma Allen

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Annie Mae's Boys and Me provides a backstory for three brothers, all musicians, and their sister who provides this account of their relationships with their mother and each other. The brothers -Al Perkins ( a Detroit based Disc Jockey and record producer); James "Son" Thomas (Delta Blues Musician and sculptor) ;Robert "Mickey" Boss, a popular saxophone side man who played with Lonnie Brooks,Billy Boy Arnold and Sun Ra in Chicago- and the author,Velma "Vee" Allen all had two things in common: their love of music and a mother named Annie Mae. Their stories range from tragic to downright hilarious accounts of life in Mississippi, mainly the Delta ,during the 40's and beyond. They were poor,and their only stability was provided by their grandmother in the case of "Son" and their mother who felt that an education was the only way out of poverty. They chose music and art and made the sacrifices necessary to pursue their passion.The author replaced her passion for music with a quest for education for most of her life,but now, in her retirement years, is trying to pursue that passion through singing, songwriting and writing. She is the only survivor and reflects upon her life of service to her family and her unrequited desire to pursue her music dreams.
Annie Mae spent all of her life in Mississippi in Brookhaven , Yazoo City and Eden until she finally found her way to the Mississippi Delta where she raised three of her children, having allowed the oldest son to live with her mother in Eden.Upon reaching adulthood, he finally joined the rest of the family in Leland, Mississippi. Annie Mae only achieved an eighth grade education, but she became convinced early on that the only way to have a decent life was to get an education and work hard. And work hard she did, primarily doing cleaning in homes in Leland, washing dishes at the Leland Cafe and finally finding work as a maid at the Montgomery Hotel In Leland. When she worked there, Blacks were not allowed to stay at the Montgomery Hotel. It is ironic that today, that hotel has become the Highway 61 Blues Museum housing pictures and artifacts of her son,James "Son" Thomas, a renowned Delta Blues Artist and sculptor. In addition, a historical marker out front notes the achievements of two of her sons--James "Son" Thomas and Albert (Al) Lee Perkins as well as her daughter-Velma"Vee" Allen, the author. Perhaps her most profound influence was on her daughter who achieved the educational goals her mother encouraged, and made her mother proud by singing in the church, attending college and eventually teaching in Leland where she had attended elementary and high school. The daughter describes her mother's desire to know every detail of her encounters with others and how she loved to hear positive things that others had said to her. Their arrangement was that if the daughter did well in school and remained a "good girl", Annie Mae would see that the daughter never had to take "low stoops" to get what she wanted. Annie Mae said she would provide whatever her daughter needed--and she did. Annie Mae lived with her daughter and her family up until her death in 1971 where continued to provide guidance and influence the decisions of her daughter. This book celebrates Annie Mae, a poor Black woman who did her best to raise her children to have a strong work ethic and to look after their families and each other as she tried to do. The daughter listened.but the boys pursued their music and art dreams. Now, after retirement from a career in education , the daughter is seeking to pursue her deferred dreams in music and writing. She has declared herself unburdened.
About the author
Velma Allen is an educator, singer, songwriter and author whose career in education covers a 50-year period. Born and educated through her Master's degree in Mississippi , she moved to Michigan in 1972 to pursue a doctorate in Special Education Administration. She completed her doctorate in l974 an remained in Michigan where she held many positions in special education and health care administration. Throughout her life, Velma was passionate about music and began writing lyrics as a young girl and passing them on to her older brother Al Perkins who recorded many of her songs with the various artist he managed and produced. Her songs have been recorded by Dr. John, Little Milton, Al Hudson and One Way, Alicia Myers, and Candace Edwards and Al Perkins. Rather than pursue a recording career on a full-time basis herself, Velma opted to devote her time and energy to her educational career. She recorded a few songs in her spare time, but never opted for a full time music career. After retiring in 2008, Velma chose to spend more time writing songs and completing this memoir which provides a backstory to the lives of her well-known brothers and her mother. Other works are in process and, of course, songwriting is ongoing. Velma pas produced three CD's which are available through CDBaby. Links to these CD's are available at her website veeallen.com
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