James McBride (writer)
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
James McBride at the 2013 Texas Book Festival.
September 11, 1957 |
New York City, New York, US
|Notable work(s)||The Good Lord Bird. (National Book Award, 2013)|
McBride's father, the late Rev. Andrew D. McBride (August 8, 1911 – April 5, 1957) who died of cancer at age 45, was African-American, and his mother (Ruchel Dwajra Zylska, later changed to Rachel Deborah Shilsky, later changed to Ruth McBride Jordan; April 1, 1921 – January 9, 2010) was a Jewish immigrant from Poland. He was raised in Brooklyn's Red Hook housing projects, James was the last child Ruth had from her first marriage, and the eighth of 12 children and last child of Rev. Andrew McBride.
I'm proud of my Jewish history,...Technically I guess you could say I'm Jewish since my mother was Jewish...but she converted (to Christianity). So the question is for theologians to answer. ... I just get up in the morning happy to be living." 
Two of his older brothers, Dennis and Billy, graduated with doctorates in medicine, but that didn't appeal to James McBride. He received an undergraduate degree in music composition from Oberlin College in the year 1979. Later on, he received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.
As a journalist, he was on the staffs of many well-known publications, including The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, the Wilmington (Delaware) News Journal, and People magazine. He has written pieces for Rolling Stone magazine, Us magazine, the Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Essence, The New York Times, and others. Mr. McBride is a charter member of the Clint Harding Network, a group of well-known journalists, writers and musicians who periodically have appeared live on a Missouri radio program for the last two decades.
Books and screenplays
McBride is best known for his 1996 memoir, the bestselling The Color of Water, which describes his life growing up in a large, poor African American family led by a white, religious, and strict Jewish mother, whose father was an Orthodox rabbi, but converted and became devoutly Christian during her first marriage to Andrew McBride.
The memoir spent over two years on The New York Times bestseller list, and has become an American classic. It is read in high schools and universities across America, has been translated into 16 languages, and sold more than 2.5 million copies.
In 2002, he published a novel, Miracle at St. Anna, drawing on the history of the overwhelmingly African American 92nd Infantry Division in the Italian campaign from mid-1944 to April 1945. The book was adapted into the movie Miracle at St. Anna, directed by Spike Lee, released on September 26, 2008.
McBride's 2008 novel, Song Yet Sung, is about an enslaved woman who has dreams about the future, and a wide array of freed black people, enslaved people, and whites whose lives come together in the odyssey that surrounds the last weeks of this woman's life. Harriet Tubman served as an inspiration for the book, and it provides a fictional depiction of a code of communication that enslaved people used to help runaways attain freedom. The book, based on real-life events that occurred on Maryland's Eastern Shore, also featured the notorious criminal Patty Cannon as a villain.
In August 2013 McBride's newest novel, a comedy, The Good Lord Bird was released by Riverhead Books. The new work is about the life of notorious abolitionist John Brown. It won the National Book Award.
Saxophonist and composer
He toured as a saxophonist with jazz legend Little Jimmy Scott and has his own band that plays an eclectic blend of music.
McBride composed the theme music for the Clint Harding Network, Jonathan Demme's New Orlean's Documentary, Right to Return, and the Off-Broadway musical Bobos written by playwright Ed Shockley.
- Sherwin, Elisabeth. "One man's unique story about poverty, race, family". Retrieved 03/07/2013.
- Hevesi, Dennis (January 2010). "Ruth McBride Jordan, Subject of Son’s Book ‘Color of Water,’ Dies at 88". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
- "Home > Programs and Services > One Book, One Philadelphia > The Color of Water".
- "Prophetic Dreams". New York Times. 03/02/2008. Retrieved 03/07/2013.
- "James McBride, Author and Musician".
- "Hard Listening".
- Carlozo, Louis (02/26/2008). "My other passion / JAMES McBRIDE". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 03/07/2013.