Memoirs are, by definition, self-serving, strongly personal stories that tell the rest of us the author’s life story. So it is with William “Smoke” Howard’s An Ebony Life Defined (120 pp. $14.99, paper; $7.50, Kindle), the story of Howard’s journey through the music scene starting in Nashville and ending in Philadelphia.
Howard, in his short book, takes the reader on a succinct and well-written ride from early family singing experiences in Bristol, Tennessee, to owning, co-managing and becoming the lead vocalist of the long-time, regionally successful group, The Ebonys.
Centered around Nashville, far from the music industry frenzy of Detroit and of both coasts, Howard was able to hold to the values of his Christian upbringing. Full of anecdotes and asides, his book is akin to Who’s-Who of the Nashville non-country music scene.
I confess that I wasn’t aware of the success and popularity of the Ebonys or many of the other singing groups Howard mentions, and learned a good deal about them from his book.
Howard briefly mentions his service with the Americal Division in the Vietnam War, but includes one of the best war stories I’ve ever read. Don’t miss it.
An Ebony Life is a nicely written and a well-presented labor of love by a man who is rightly proud of his achievements in the music business.
It’s an inspirational read.