Somebody’s Angel Child is valuable to young adults for several reasons: The book serves as a lesson in early African-American music in general and in the struggles of one of its legendary singers in particular, and it also provides an important knowledge base from which to draw inferences about the impact of the blues on more contemporary musical forms.
Moore portrays Smith as a woman who was consumed by a passion for life. In fact, the strength of the singer’s personality receives at least as much attention in his biography as her music does. Yet many informational gaps, both historical and biographical, exist in the work. It does not seem that Moore made a vigorous effort to sift fact from fiction. Many significant people in Smith’s life were never interviewed, and the work contains a number of factual errors and omissions. For example, Moore does not mention Smith’s first husband, Earl Love, who died shortly after their marriage; her adopted son, Jack Gee, Jr.; her bisexuality; or her numerous extra-marital affairs.
Most of the information upon which the book is based was provided by Gee, but the details and events that he recounts are almost exclusively anecdotal and largely undocumented. Moreover, Gee also presents himself in an entirely positive light. Later biographers have pointed out facts about Gee that cast doubt on his credibility. For example, Gee consistently misrepresented himself as a police officer when, in...
(The entire section is 560 words.)