Do you have a young reader with an interest in bluegrass music? If so, do we have a summer book for you.
Kentucky author and actor Alecia Whitaker has just released Wildflower, a book for teens about 16 year old Bird Barrett, who performs with her family bluegrass band. In the course of the story, she deals with opportunities to make it big as a country star. One day she is touring the country in an RV with her family, and the next she is discovered by a country music scout who drops her into the thick of the Nashville scene.
The book has already generated some buzz in the media, with one teen specialty publication promoting their own You Can Be A Star-themed singing competition based on Bird Barrett and Wildflower.
We spoke yesterday with Alecia Whitaker, who though described above as a Kentuckian, is raising two young boys with her husband in New York City. But she was born and raised in the Bluegrass State, and while she never played the music – she took piano lessons as a child – Alecia has long been fond of bluegrass music.
“I’ve always liked bluegrass… the upright bass, the acoustic sound… and I always thought bluegrass music was appealing. It struck me that the bluegrass setting would add something to the story in Wildflower.”
Whitaker also said that she is dedicated to writing wholesome, positive stories for young readers – sometimes described as the “clean teen” school of literature.
“I don’t mind that my stories aren’t as edgy as others. I was a voracious reader as a child, and I write for myself at that age.
With Wildflower I wanted to tell a story from the mid south. So often Southern literature concerns Mississippi and Alabama, but there are good stories in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia as well!
Plus, many books about children in the South too often have themes like rural poverty or backwardness. Most of us grew up in Kentucky in neighborhoods like those anywhere else in the country.”
And what of the talent search?
That’s being handled by Justine Magazine, a periodical aimed at teenaged girls. Justine… Just Teen… get it? In addition to features on skin care, makeup and fashion, the magazine encourages reading among its base of subscribers.
In the book, Bird writes a hit single called Notice Me, and the publisher (Poppy – Little Brown) found a Grammy-nominated songwriter, Alissa Moreno, to add on to the lyrics in the book, and put it to a melody she wrote. Sheet music for the song is included in the book, and young singers between 13 and 21 – male and female – are invited to submit an audio or video of themselves singing the song. They can use the melody Alissa wrote, or make up one of their own.
Wouldn’t it be great if a bluegrass version was chosen by the judges?
The winner will receive a new acoustic guitar and a pair of cowboy boots, plus the attention of Nashville music industry pros.
You can find all the contest details on the Justine web site.
Wildflower is available wherever teen fiction is sold, and as a loyal supporter of local booksellers, Alecia will send an autographed bookplate to anyone who sends a copy of their bookstore receipt to her.