The rich, complex lives of African Americans in Texas were often neglected by the mainstream media, which historically seldom ventured into Houston's Fourth Ward, San Antonio's East Side, South Dallas, or the black neighborhoods in smaller cities. When Bill Minutaglio began writing for Texas newspapers in the 1970s, few large publications had more than a token number of African American journalists, and they barely acknowledged the things of lasting importance to the African American community. Though hardly the most likely reporter—as a white, Italian American transplant from New York City—for the black Texas beat, Minutaglio was drawn to the African American heritage, seeking its soul in churches, on front porches, at juke joints, and anywhere else that people would allow him into their lives. His nationally award-winning writing offered many Americans their first deeper understanding of Texas's singular, complicated African American history.
This eclectic collection gathers the best of Minutaglio's writing about the soul of black Texas. He profiles individuals both unknown and famous, including blues legends Lightnin' Hopkins, Amos Milburn, Robert Shaw, and Dr. Hepcat. He looks at neglected, even intentionally hidden, communities. And he wades into the musical undercurrent that touches on African Americans' joys, longings, and frustrations, and the passing of generations. Minutaglio's stories offer an understanding of the sweeping evolution of music, race, and justice in Texas. Moved forward by the musical heartbeat of the blues and defined by the long shadow of racism, the stories measure how far Texas has come … or still has to go.
"Bill Minutaglio has long been regarded as one of the great writers in Texas journalism … Minutaglio wrote exquisite long-form pieces about Texas poverty in a time of plenty"
"Reading Bill Minutaglio is like listening to one of the great Texas blues legends. His reporting brings forth stories of suffering and resilience, while at the same time his dazzling writing evokes the brilliantly effusive guitar solos of masters like T-Bone Walker and Lightnin' Hopkins."
"Bill Minutaglio writes about Texas with an intimacy honed over years of exploring neighborhoods and personalities during his residencies in Houston, Dallas, Abilene and San Antonio. Yet this well-known journalist won't be invited to contribute to the glossy travel magazines any time soon. That's because Minutaglio's favorite subjects are the very places that tourists—and even many long-time residents—avoid … In each of these pieces, he pushes journalism to its limits … a book as deeply felt and well written as this one has made a believer out of me … This commitment to the story behind the story sets this book apart, and will keep you thinking—and feeling—long after you have put it down"
"You don't have to search for the blues because the blues always find you. In the introduction to his dazzling new collection of journalism, 'In Search of the Blues: A Journey to the Soul of Black Texas,' Bill Minutaglio anticipates this reaction when he writes, 'You can search for the blues and you will find them — or they will find you' … 'In Search of the Blues' is not only "a celebration of the blues, black culture and black Texans but a celebration of extraordinary journalism and writing."
"(The) research method is unflinching immersion, and the results are rendered in rich prose that at times cracks like a drumbeat and at other times is an sinuous and lyrical as blues music itself … He writes incisively about the people of South Dallas, San Antonio's East Side, and Houston's Fourth Ward without agenda or condescension for those who call those places home and those will never visit."
"A sweeping collection of interviews and elegant insight into the generative power of place … (it) gives voice to African Americans in some of the most neglected corners of America"