craig marberry

Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats

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Countless black women would rather attend church naked than hatless. For these women, a church hat, flamboyant as it may be, is no mere fashion accessory;  it’s a cherished African American custom, one observed with boundless passion by black women of various religious denominations. A woman’s hat speaks long before its wearer utters a word.  It’s what Deirdre Guion calls “hattitude…there’s a little more strut in your carriage when you wear a nice hat. There’s something special about you.” If a hat says a lot about a person, it says even more about a people-the customs they observe, the symbols they prize, and the fashions they fancy. 

Photographer Michael Cunningham beautifully captures the self-expressions of women of all ages-from young glamorous women to serene but stylish grandmothers. Award-winning journalist Craig Marberry provides an intimate look at the women and their lives. Together they’ve captured a captivating custom, this wearing of church hats, a peculiar convergence of faith and fashion that keeps the Sabbath both holy and glamorous.

Cuttin’ Up: Wit and Wisdom From Black Barber Shops

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by Craig Marberry

In Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats

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and Spirit of Harlem: A Portrait of America’s Most Exciting Neighborhood
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journalist Craig Marberry took oral history to a new level. Here, inCuttin’ Up, he presents more pitch-perfect portraits so good you’ll feel like you’re eavesdropping.Cuttin’ Up celebrates the laid-back fellowship of men in a barber shop, the place, as Marberry writes, “where we go to be among ourselves, to be ourselves, to unmask.” 

Crisscrossing the country from Detroit to Orlando, Brooklyn to Houston, Marberry listened in on conversations that covered everything from reminiscences about the first haircut—a sometimes comic rite of passage—to spirited exchanges about women, to serious lessons in black history and current events. His collection of the wit and wisdom of patrons and barbers—including the small but scrappy subset of women barbers and the father of a very famous celebrity—brings together an irresistible and often touching chorus of voices. 

Marberry has created a book that sings with the handsome beauty of the oral tradition that is the cornerstone of the black barber shop experience. [book link
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