Sherley Anne Williams

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sherley Anne Williams (August 25, 1944 – July 6, 1999) was an American poet, novelist, professor, vocalist, Jazz poet, and social critic. Many of her works tell stories about her life in the African-American community.


Williams was born in Bakersfield, California. When she was young her family picked cotton in order to earn money. At the age of eight her father died of tuberculosis and when she was sixteen her mother died. She graduated from Thomas Alva Edison High School in Fresno, California in 1962. In 1966 she earned her bachelor's degree in English at what is now California State University, Fresno and she received her master's degree at Brown University in 1972. The following year (1973) she became a professor of English Literature at the University of California at San Diego. She traveled to Ghana under a 1984 Fulbright grant.[1] Her works include collections of poetry such as The Peacock Poems (1975), the novel Dessa Rose (1986), and two picture books. She also published the groundbreaking non-fiction work Give Birth to Brightness: A Thematic Study of Neo-Black Literature in 1972.

Williams is also known for her music which mainly consisted of blues and jazz poetry. In 1982 Williams wrote, recorded, and self-published her debut single titled “Some One Sweet Angel Chile”. The single was re-released by Blues Economique Records in 1984. The music for “Some One Sweet Angel Chile” was composed by Bertram Turetzky.

In the early 1990s Williams reconnected with Bertram Turetzky for some recording sessions for Turetzky's album called Compositions And Improvisations which also featured various jazz and blues artists such as Vinny Golia, Jerome Rothenberg, Quincy Troupe, and Nancy Turetzky. Williams is credited as a vocalist for her contributions to Turetzky's album. Three of the songs featured on the album were previously-written Williams poems recorded in musical format: "One-Sided Bed Blues", "Big Red And His Brother", and "The Wishon Line".[2][3] The album was recorded at Studio 101 in Solana Beach, California during the summer of 1992, and released by Nine Winds Records in 1993.



  • Dessa Rose (1986)
  • Working Cotton (1992)
  • Girls Together (1999)


  • The Peacock Poems (1975)
  • Some One Sweet Angel Chile (1982)


  • Giving Birth to Brightness: A Thematic Study in Neo-Black Literature (1972)

Further reading[edit]

  • Davis, Mary Kemp. "Everybody Knows Her Name: The Recovery of the Past in Sherley Anne Williams's Dessa Rose", Callaloo 12.3 (Summer 1989), pp. 544–558.
  • Draper, James P. "Sherley Anne Williams", Black Literature Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism of the Most Significant Works of Black Authors Over the Past 200 Years, Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992, pp. 1950–1961.
  • Shirley M. Jordan, "Sherley Anne Williams", in Black Women Writers At Work, ed. Claudia Tate, New York: Continuum, 1983, pp. 205–213.
  • Nagel, Carol De Kane. "Sherley Anne Williams", African American Biography. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994, pp. 787–789.


  1. ^ Mildred E. Mickle, "Williams, Sherley Anne", in William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster & Trudier Harris (eds), Oxford Companion to African American Literature, New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  2. ^ " Sherley Anne Williams - Discography" Sherley Anne Williams (1993). Discogs p.1 Retrieved 25-01-2016
  3. ^ " Bertram Turetzky – Compositions And Improvisations Tracklisting" Bertram Turetzky(1993). Discogs p.1 Retrieved 25-01-2016

External links[edit]