book on the Athens music scene named best book on the history of Georgia |



ATLANTA – The Georgia Historical Society recently announced that Grace Elizabeth Hale has received the 2021 Malcolm Bell Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award for Best Book on Georgian History published in 2020 for her book “Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture ”(University of North Carolina Press, 2020). The award was presented at a private lunch hosted by Vince and Barbara Dooley at their home in Athens.

“Grace Hale’s remarkable book on Athens and, by extension, Georgia, as a center of musical art, is a wonderful academic achievement,” said W. Todd Groce, president of the Georgia Historical Society, in a commentary. Press release. “It conclusively proves that the South is still the birthplace of American music and that New York and Boston are not the exclusive purveyors of national culture and creativity.”

The Bell Award, established in 1992, is the Georgia Historical Society’s highest publication award. It recognizes the best book on the history of Georgia published the previous year. The award is named in honor of Malcolm Bell Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell in recognition of their contributions to recording Georgia’s history.

The GHS Publishing Awards Committee noted that Grace Elizabeth Hale’s “Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture” is largely the story of a small town in Georgia that has transcended his province and, however unlikely, influenced American music. for over two decades. Hale writes evocatively, documenting how Athens became Athens and a model for college towns across the country. In doing so, she illuminates the history of modern Georgia and offers new perspectives on American culture during the closing decades of the 20th century.

Hale is a Commonwealth Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Virginia. She is the author of “A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America” ​​(Oxford Univ Press, 2011), “Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890- 1940 “(New York: Pantheon, 1998) (New York: Vintage, 1999), and the next” The Lyncher in the Family: Reckoning with My Mississippi Grandfather and the Intimate History of White Supremacy “(New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2022).

For more information on the Malcolm Bell Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award, contact Pattye Meagher, Director of Communications, at (912) 651-2125, ext. 153 or by email to [email protected] For a list of past Bell Award recipients, please visit our website at

In the summer of 1978, the B-52s conquered the New York subway. A year later, the group’s self-titled debut album burst onto the Billboard charts, capturing the imaginations of fans and music critics around the world. The fact that the group formed in the sleepy university town of southern Athens only increased the fascination. Soon, other groups from Athens followed the B-52s at the forefront of new American music that would come to be known as “alternative”, including REM, which catapulted in the 1980s to peak of the mainstream music. As bands like the B-52s, REM, and Pylon drew the eyes of New York trend-setters to the south, they discovered Athens as an unexpected mecca of music, experimental art, and DIY spirit. and progressive politics – a creative underground as dynamic as any being. found in major cities nationwide.

In Athens in the 80s, if you were young and ready to live without a lot of money, anything seemed possible. “Cool Town” reveals the passion, vitality and enduring significance of a bohemian scene that has become a role model for others to follow. Hale experienced the Athenian scene as a student, small business owner, and band member. Combining personal memories and a historian’s eye, she reconstructs networks of groups, artists and friends who have relied on the things at hand to make a new art of the possible, transforming American culture along the way. . In a story full of music and full of hope, Hale shows how an unlikely cast of characters in an unlikely location created a surprising and beautiful new world.



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