An oral history of the fictional Opal and Nev, a provocative rock duo in the 70s, and the explosive event that changed the trajectory of their lives and careers.
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Opal and Nev were a provocative rock due in the 70s, with Nev joining his folksy songwriting with Opal’s loud, flamboyant, and political performances. When Opal protests the brandishing of the Confederate flag by another band at her label’s showcase performance, the event turns violent and Black drummer Jimmy Curtis is killed.
Decades later in 2016, S. Sunny Shelton–the daughter of Jimmy and a music journalist–is writing a book about Opal and Nev. Her intentions are professional, but as she learns more about what really happened that fateful night and in the years after, the project becomes very personal.
This fictional oral history of Opal and Nev–the band is fictional and so is the story–is just as riveting as any history you might read about your favorite band. If you liked Daisy Jones and the Six, you will love this. It’s less about the debauchery of the rock life than about the constant inequalities, racism, and sexism Opal faced as a Black woman in the music industry, and how it affected the trajectory of her and Nev’s careers. Definitely one of the best of the year.
“Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job–despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records. In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth. Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.”–