Sing Her Name
Published by: Agate Publishing
- Published: February 2022
Beautiful and brilliantly talented Celia DeMille is a nineteenth-century concert artist who has garnered fame, sung all over the world, and amassed a fortune. But prejudice bars her from achieving her place in history as one of the world’s greatest singers, and she dies in poverty and obscurity.
In 21st-century New Orleans, Eden Malveaux, a thirty-something waitress with a beautiful but untutored voice, is the sole guardian of her 17-year-old brother. Motherless for most of their lives, she has struggled for years to make ends meet as she fights to keep the promise she made to their dying father: to protect her wayward brother and raise him as if he were her own child. After a hurricane displaces them to New York City, Eden seeks safe refuge—not only from the ensuing flood, but also to hide her brother from the law, while she works to divert him from a path of crime, prison, or worse.
Months into their New York stay, Eden’s estranged Great Aunt Julia summons her back to New Orleans for a brief visit, and the older woman gives Eden something that alters the course of her life: a box she found in the midst of flooded rubble containing a hundred-year-old scrapbook and a mysterious and valuable gold pendant necklace belonging to one of the greatest singers in history—Celia DeMille.
Eden returns to New York, but as she explores the artifacts of Celia DeMille’s extraordinary life, curiosity grows into obsession, then into an inspiration that propels Eden into a world she never dreamed. With the help of new friends, and buoyed by the diva’s story, Eden’s new life in New York takes a dramatic turn toward unimagined success.
But just as she is poised to make her mark on the world stage, her brother’s dangerous choices catch up with them, and Eden must confront buried secrets from her complicated childhood. To face the promise of her future, Eden must first reconcile years of regrets and leave behind the guilt of the past—and perhaps even the brother she loves.
PRAISE FOR SING HER NAME:
"Sing Her Name is a brilliant jewel of a novel, gorgeously crafted, intensely moving, and entirely fluent in the historical and musical worlds it portrays. Such is the mastery of Rosalyn Story's double narrative that this novel of two singers, bound in spirit but separated by some seventy years, captures so much of the weight and thrust of America—of promises broken, of possibilities dangling just out of reach. Sing Her Name gives us heartbreak and heroes in nearly equal measure, and it's in that nearly—paper-thin, and wide as the ocean—that this glorious story lives." —Ben Fountain, New York Times bestselling author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
"Rosalyn Story is a superb storyteller who has beautifully illuminated the life of Sissieretta Jones throughout her novel Sing Her Name. In her novel, the mystery and intrigue of the two main characters, Celia DeMille and Eden Malveaux, and how their lives are entwined, is what propels this moving story to an outcome that ends on a Magnificent High Note. As in her previous book, And So I Sing, Rosalyn has once again paid homage to the greatest singer of her generation, Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones. Like Rosalyn Story's novel, Sing Her Name, we will continue to let our voices rise in a loud crescendo to celebrate her life and legacy." —Harolyn Blackwell, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
"Story's background as a musician and nonfiction writer about African American opera... primes her to tell this musical tale of the ghosts of wronged artists and the burdens they pass on, the legacy of place, and how we can forgive others and move on, with or without them. This truly is a novel that sings." —Booklist
"Musical talent blooms in Rosalyn Story's stirring, character-driven novel Sing Her Name, a powerful story about Black artistry, women's dreams, and overcoming strife. . . . Sing Her Name is a beautiful and triumphant novel in which a talented woman works to reconcile her sense of family loyalty with her fidelity to her own considerable gifts." —Foreword Review, starred review
PRAISE FOR WADING HOME:
"New Orleans natives struggle to recover their lives as well as their property after Hurricane Katrina.... Story’s musical background infuses her novel with a lyrical rhythm...as engaging characters rebuild their relationships and their city. The current oil-spill crisis only makes the hopefulness of this novel more moving, if heart-wrenching." —Kirkus Reviews
"Story writes with the plot-twisting precision of a veteran and a lyricism reminiscent of James Baldwin." —Black Issues Book Review