Agate Publishing Announces February Release New Novel from Rosalyn Story ‘Sing Her Name’

By Chris Ruel

Agate Publishing has announced the February 15, 2022 release of a new novel from Rosalyn Story, “Sing Her Name.”

In keeping with her previous novels, Story focuses on the impact Black artists have had on American music. The narrative traces the careers of two gifted singers, who, though set apart by time, become interlinked.

Celia DeMille is the daughter of a former slave who becomes an in-demand singer at the major opera houses. DeMille realizes that prejudice will influence the history of her achievements and legacy, so she documents her career. The story moves forward in time to 2006, where the reader is introduced to a 30-something New Orleans waitress named Eden Malveaux who inherits a box of Celia’s belongings. The keepsakes spur Malveaux’s interest in opera and she sets out on creating a singing career of her own.

DeMille’s character is based on the life of Black opera singer Sissieretta Jones (1868-1932), whose magnificent achievements have been lost to time.Jones was the most famous Black concert singer of the 19th century. She sang for four presidents, for kings, queens, and princes, and despite her fame, died impoverished and forgotten. The book is releasing just in time for the 130th anniversary of Sissieretta Jones’s appearance as the first Black woman to sing at Carnegie Hall.

In a press release Q & A, Story said, “By pairing a story inspired by her life along with the story of a fictional young Black singer, I thought I could draw readers to Jones’s life, and pay tribute to her through a contemporary setting. The young woman singer, Eden, is not without her own challenges and her own improbable journey, even in a time of greater opportunities. But Celia showed Eden what was possible, even in a much more difficult time.”

Rosalyn Story is a violinist with the Fort Worth Symphony and the author of the novels “More Than You Know” (Agate Bolden, 2004) and “Wading Home” (Agate Bolden, 2010), as well as “And  So I Sing,” a nonfiction work about African American opera singers. She lives in Dallas, Texas.