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September 25, 2017 @ 7:00 pm


John Capouya


September 25, 2017
7:00 pm


Books & Books in Coral Gables
265 Aragon Ave
Coral Gables, FL 33134
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When recalling the roots of soul music, most people are likely to name Memphis, Detroit, New Orleans, Muscle Shoals, or Macon. But Florida also has a rich soul music history—an important cultural legacy that has often gone unrecognized. Florida Soul celebrates great artists of the Sunshine State who produced some of the most electric, emotive soul music America has ever heard.

Florida Soul tells the story of Ray Charles’s musical upbringing in Florida, where he wrote his first songs and made his first recordings. It highlights the careers of Pensacola singers James and Bobby Purify and their producer, Papa Don Schroeder. Florida Soul reveals how Hank Ballard created his international hit song “The Twist” after seeing the dance in Tampa and profiles Gainesville singer Linda Lyndell (“What a Man”). Miami’s Overtown and Liberty City neighborhoods produced Sam Moore of the legendary duo Sam and Dave, Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall of Deep City Records, and singer Helene Smith. Miami was also the longtime headquarters of Henry Stone, whose influential company T.K. Productions put out hits by Timmy Thomas, Latimore, Betty Wright, and KC and the Sunshine Band. Stone’s artists and distribution deals influenced charts and radio airplay across the world.

Born in the era of segregation with origins in gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz and reaching maturity during the civil rights movement, soul music is still enjoyed today, still very much a part of our collective culture. John Capouya draws on extensive interviews with surviving musicians to re-create the excitement and honor the achievements of soul’s golden age, establishing Florida as one of the great soul music capitals of the United States.



About the Author:

John Capouya teaches journalism and nonfiction narrative at The University of Tampa. He mentors students in UT’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA program, as well as works with private writing clients. During his journalism career he was an editor at Newsweek and SmartMoney magazines, New York Newsday, and the New York Times. Florida Soul (University Press of Florida) is his third book; his previous one, the biography Gorgeous George, is being adapted into a feature film.


Introduction and performance by:

 Timmy Thomas

Timmy Thomas, Florida Soul musician, songwriter and educator will introduce author John Capouya and perform at this special event. He is best-known for his #1 R&B hit and global anthem, “Why Can’t We Live Together,” a passionate plea for tolerance t released in 1972 on Miami’s Glades record label. His classic song has since been recorded by Sade, Carlos Santana, Joan Osborne, and many other artists.

Thomas wrote “Why Can’t We Live Together” at home in anguish after hearing TV newscaster Walter Cronkite give the numbers of American and Vietnamese soldiers who died that day in the Vietnam war. His appeal for peace and brotherhood later became the theme song of Nelson Mandela’s historic election as President of South Africa, and Thomas performed the song at Mandela’s inauguration celebration. In 2015 ”WCWLT” gained new attention when Drake sampled it for his hit, “Hotline Bling.”

Thomas taught for decades in Miami schools; his long-standing community activism as well as his new notoriety led to his serving as Grand Marshall of Miami’s 2015 Martin Luther King Day parade, along with his longtime musical associate Betty Wright.

A motivational speaker, Thomas continues to record, recently signing with Miami funk and soul label Allsun Records.