Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 112: Shine Bright by Danyel Smith

by | Aug 15, 2022 | 2022 Book Reviews, Marion's Favorite Books, Marion's Favorites, Wisdom From Kammbia Column | 2 comments

Whitney, Janet, Mariah, Gladys, Aretha, and Diana. 

These are the biggest names in American popular music since the 1960s. These singers have been covered in books from an individual perspective, but veteran music journalist and former editor of Billboard & Vibe Magazine, Danyel Smith has brought them together in her latest book, Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop.

I heard the author recently on the Questlove Supreme podcast talking about her career and this book.  The conversation was lively, authentic, and informative.  Since I have grown up listening to all these singers, I wanted to read Danyel’s book.

Shine Bright is part memoir, biography, and music history intertwined into one book.  Smith starts it with the legendary but unheralded The Dixie Cups. The Dixie Cups hit the top of the pop charts with songs like Chapel of Love and Iko Iko. The book ends with Mariah Carey and her well chronicled journey through pop music.  Smith adds another perspective to the diva’s career and fits with the book.

Also, the author covered her own journey from growing up in Oakland and how it led her to becoming editor of the most popular music magazines in their heyday. The music from these women helped her through some difficult situations and became the soundtrack of her life.

My favorite parts of the book are when she talked about singers like the heavenly soprano of Deniece Williams, the disco queen and trailblazer Donna Summer, the dance princess Jody Watley and the overlooked Marilyn McCoo of 5th Dimension fame and the Solid Gold television show.  These women have left an indelible mark on R&B and pop music that needed to be examined.

This book brings to light the contributions from some of the best African American female artists and their role in shaping American popular music.  The story of our country’s musical heritage can not be told without these singers and Smith has done a major public service announcement for these women.  Music fans should read Shine Bright and recognize these aforementioned singers of their rightful place in popular music history.


  1. Danyel

    thank u !

    • MHill

      You are welcome, Danyel!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Marion Hill