Sometimes, when you lose almost everything as a child, a lifeline appears that restores your faith and re-ignites your spirit. For John Coltrane, that lifeline was the saxophone, and the musical dreams it inspired. Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)—written by NY Times-bestselling author Gary Golio (JIMI: Sounds Like A Rainbow) and illustrated by award-winning artist Rudy Gutierrez—captures John’s struggle from lost boy to musical leader, from darkness to light. In words and images that reflect the depth of John’s joy as well as his yearning for inner peace, Spirit Seeker tells the story of how art and spirituality shaped one man’s talents, and gave him the courage to share those gifts with the world.
Drawn along by saxophone greats like Lester Young and Johnny Hodges, John’s life changed overnight when he first heard bebop master Charlie Bird Parker. Still, the sadness that had clung to him since childhood—and his father’s death—led to drinking and drug use that finally brought his early success to a standstill. In a moment of great courage, John remembered the words of his grandfather, Reverend Blair, and cleansed his body of the deadly habits weighing him down. Following a spiritual revelation, he set free his enormous talent to soar like an angel of sound. With the creation of his masterpiece A Love Supreme, he offered a timeless gift of gratitude to the Divine.
For young people, Spirit Seeker highlights the importance of goals and aspirations—particularly in the face of personal adversities—and showcases the value of the Arts in providing a guide or roadmap for the future. Golio’s sensitive, poetic text and Gutierrez’ intricate, expressive paintings portray Coltrane as the multifaceted musical genius he was, infusing his music with a new understanding of God and Spirit that should spark fresh thinking in young minds.
Gary Golio has been interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition and the Michael Eric Dyson show, and featured on CBS-TV in New York City. He is the author of JIMI: Sounds Like A Rainbow – A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and When Bob Met Woody – The Story of the Young Bob Dylan (Little, Brown). Golio is a clinical social worker/psychotherapist who helps children, teens, and their families deal with the multifaceted problems of addiction, a subject addressed in an Author’s Note about musicians and drug use. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, author Susanna Reich, and is available for interviews. Visit him online at www.garygolio.com.
Spirit Seeker illustrator Rudy Gutierrez’ art graces the cover of Carlos Santana’s “Shaman” CD, and has been featured in Rolling Stone, The NY Times, and Ms. He has been awarded the Distinguished Educator Award from the American Society of Illustrators, and a Pura Bel Pre Illustrator Award. See his children’s book art at http://altpick.com/rudygutierrez.
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