Tambourines to Glory

Along with Black Nativity, Tambourines to Glory is one of Langston Hughes’ best-known musicals. Hughes wrote the musical play in 1956 and turned the play into a novel in 1958. The play premiered on Broadway in 1963.

For every bustling jazz joint that opened in Korean War-era Harlem, a new church seemed to spring up. Tambourines to Glory introduces you to an unlikely team behind a church whose rock was the curb at 126th and Lenox. Essie Belle Johnson and Laura Reed live in adjoining tenement flats, adrift on public relief. Essie wants to somehow earn enough money to reunite with her daughter and provide her with a nice home; Laura loves young men, mink coats, and fine Scotch. On a day of inspiration, the friends decide to use a thrift-store tambourine and a layaway Bible to start a church.

Title: Tambourines to Glory
Published: 1958
Genres: Novels, Plays