Updated: Apr 1
It’s 2016 and Sunny Shelton, the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief of music magazine, Aural, is writing about the story of Opal Jewel and Nev Charles. She has exclusive information that the duo will be making a historic reunion at an upcoming music festival with renewed interest in the former musical sensation all but guaranteed. Sunny’s writing of their story takes us back to the early 1970s when Nev, who relocated to New York City from his native England, is trying to make a name for himself as a singer/songwriter. His record company feels that he needs a female voice to accompany him. He discovers his soon-to-be partner’s powerful singing at a bar during amateur night. Opal, a Black singer, turns out to be the perfect match for the pale white, red-headed Nev. While not the best singer Nev has ever heard, Opal makes up for it with her star-making presence.
The duo starts getting some notice. Opal hits the NYC scene gaining attention for her style and attitude. Soon after, their record company signs a southern rock band which proudly waves a Confederate flag during their performances. When Rivington Records schedules a publicity showcase concert for its musicians, Opal will not stand for the presence of the competing band’s racist flag. What occurs during the event changes everyone's lives forever.
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is written as an oral history, which is highly effective in telling this unforgettable story. While the format makes the comparison to Daisy Jones & The Six inevitable, make no mistake - this book is very different. I loved Daisy Jones so if a comparison gets more people to notice Dawnie Walton’s impressive debut, that’s a good thing. Her rich and bold tale aptly presents the music and grittiness of 1970s NYC providing a backdrop for social issues - race relations, feminism and more.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster / 37 Ink for the opportunity to read an advance of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, a fictional story that feels very real. I am happy to be singing this book’s praises.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Contemporary Historical Fiction / Literary Fiction / Cultural Heritage.
Publication Date: March 30, 2021.
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