DIGITAL TOUR: Jerry Pinkney: Imaginings

God Bless the Child (2012)

Music Credit:
Shine On Me
Gloria Jean Pinkney
Album: Music From Our Lord’s Holy Heaven
Written By: Gloria Jean Pinkney

Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr.’s swing spiritual God Bless the Child, written in 1939, was the inspiration for Jerry Pinkney’s moving depiction of one family’s move north during the Great Migration of the 1930s. The depiction of the wooden cart, and the simple wood plank structures left behind for the new, are personally significant. As a boy, Pinkney enjoyed tinkering in his father’s workshop, and some of his earliest drawings were made on scraps of wood and the backs of wallpaper samples, his father’s tools in trade.

In her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues, vocalist Billie Holiday (1915–1959) noted that an argument with her mother over money led to the song God Bless the Child. During the quarrel, Holiday’s mother said “God bless the child that’s got his own,” a line that became the starting point for a popular song written in conjunction with composer Arthur Herzog, Jr. (1900–1983). In researching the Great Migration—the twentieth century movement of millions of African Americans from the southern United States to the Midwest, Northeast, and West to escape racism and seek employment – Jerry Pinkney sought information from libraries, universities, and historic sites, and traveled to the South to capture its essence.

God-Bless-the-Child
God Bless the Child (2012)
Title page illustration for God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr,
Harper Collins Publishers
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Them That’s Got Shall Get
Them That’s Got Shall Get (2012)
Illustration for God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr
Harper Collins Publishers
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Children at Water Pump
Children at Water Pump (2012)
Illustration for God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr
Harper Collins Publishers
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Boy-on-Fire-Escape
Boy on Fire Escape (2012)
Illustration for God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr
Harper Collins Publishers
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
2017-03-01T11:38:11+00:00
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