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Crescendo: The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town

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A story of mercy, miracles, and melody—and above all else: love. During the Great Depression, Fred Allen is born poor and hungry in the shadow of rural Georgia’s infamous cotton mills. By the time Fred is three years old, he can play hymns on the piano without missing a note. In kindergarten, he amazes adults with Chopin. Terrified that Fred’s genius is proof of a curse, hi A story of mercy, miracles, and melody—and above all else: love. During the Great Depression, Fred Allen is born poor and hungry in the shadow of rural Georgia’s infamous cotton mills. By the time Fred is three years old, he can play hymns on the piano without missing a note. In kindergarten, he amazes adults with Chopin. Terrified that Fred’s genius is proof of a curse, his parents lock away the piano. Cut off from his only source of joy, little Fred sinks into the chasms of neglect, depression, and hunger. Then Eleanor, a woman just released from prison for attempted murder, rents a room in his family’s deteriorating home. Under her fierce eye, Fred is protected, fed, and loved. “You gotta find a way to get out,” Eleanor says. “You were born for so much more than this.” Fred undertakes an arduous but miraculous journey through the Juilliard School in New York City, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University, and eventually the professional music scene. With the help of a few miracles, he climbs the ladder of success, marries, becomes a father and a scholar, and establishes an enviable reputation as a Grammy-nominated music producer. Then in heartbreaking speed, Fred’s past catches up with him, and his family becomes divided. He must choose either to pursue his dreams of fame and success or love. But miracles aren’t just for those with big-city dreams. In Thomasville, Georgia, amid the wreckage of his history, Fred and his resilient wife, Winnie, reassemble the pieces of their lives and encounter what just might be the greatest miracle yet—not just for them but for the entire town.  This inspiring story is sure to encourage anyone who has ever hoped their creative abilities might touch the lives of others.


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A story of mercy, miracles, and melody—and above all else: love. During the Great Depression, Fred Allen is born poor and hungry in the shadow of rural Georgia’s infamous cotton mills. By the time Fred is three years old, he can play hymns on the piano without missing a note. In kindergarten, he amazes adults with Chopin. Terrified that Fred’s genius is proof of a curse, hi A story of mercy, miracles, and melody—and above all else: love. During the Great Depression, Fred Allen is born poor and hungry in the shadow of rural Georgia’s infamous cotton mills. By the time Fred is three years old, he can play hymns on the piano without missing a note. In kindergarten, he amazes adults with Chopin. Terrified that Fred’s genius is proof of a curse, his parents lock away the piano. Cut off from his only source of joy, little Fred sinks into the chasms of neglect, depression, and hunger. Then Eleanor, a woman just released from prison for attempted murder, rents a room in his family’s deteriorating home. Under her fierce eye, Fred is protected, fed, and loved. “You gotta find a way to get out,” Eleanor says. “You were born for so much more than this.” Fred undertakes an arduous but miraculous journey through the Juilliard School in New York City, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University, and eventually the professional music scene. With the help of a few miracles, he climbs the ladder of success, marries, becomes a father and a scholar, and establishes an enviable reputation as a Grammy-nominated music producer. Then in heartbreaking speed, Fred’s past catches up with him, and his family becomes divided. He must choose either to pursue his dreams of fame and success or love. But miracles aren’t just for those with big-city dreams. In Thomasville, Georgia, amid the wreckage of his history, Fred and his resilient wife, Winnie, reassemble the pieces of their lives and encounter what just might be the greatest miracle yet—not just for them but for the entire town.  This inspiring story is sure to encourage anyone who has ever hoped their creative abilities might touch the lives of others.

30 review for Crescendo: The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A thought-provoking and touching chronicle of a life well-lived. SUMMARY Fred Allen is born poor and hungry in a small Southern Georgia town. By the time Fred is three years old he can play hymns on a old upright piano without missing a note. In kindergarten, he amazes adults with Chopin. When Fred is cut off from his only source of joy, he sinks into a morass of neglect, depression and hunger. When Eleanor, a woman just released from prison, rents a room in Fred’s family’s dilapidated home, thin A thought-provoking and touching chronicle of a life well-lived. SUMMARY Fred Allen is born poor and hungry in a small Southern Georgia town. By the time Fred is three years old he can play hymns on a old upright piano without missing a note. In kindergarten, he amazes adults with Chopin. When Fred is cut off from his only source of joy, he sinks into a morass of neglect, depression and hunger. When Eleanor, a woman just released from prison, rents a room in Fred’s family’s dilapidated home, things change. Finally, Fred is protected, fed and loved. She tells him “You’ve got a find a way to get out...You were born for so much more than this.” Fred takes an arduous journey through the Juilliard School, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University, and eventually as a professional in the music industry. Fred climbs the ladder of success, he marries, becomes a father and a scholar, and establishes an enviable reputation as a Grammy-nominated music producer. Then in heartbreaking speed Fred‘s past catches up with him and his family becomes divided. He must choose either to pursue his dream of fame or his love for his family. REVIEW One of life’s pleasure is finding a book that really surprises you by how good it is...this was that book for me. Crescendo was delightful and I couldn’t stop inhaling the pages. It’s a touching chronicle of a life well lived, a gifted musician that made a difference in this world by making a difference in a small southern Georgia town. Fred Allen’s story was captivating and I would love to see this book made into a movie. The description were vivid enough that I could see it playing in my head as I read the poignant and thought-provoking book. The writing was immediately compelling. I stayed up to 4am to finish this book in one shot. It was that good. Crescendo is a story that will stay with you long after the last page is turned. Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell have written an inspiring story that is sure to encourage anyone who has ever hoped that their creative abilities might touch the lives of others. Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Publisher Thomas Nelson Published July 16, 2019 Review www.bluestockingreviews.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tammy(PeaceLoveBooks)

    Crescendo is so much more than just an inspiring story of a man overcoming unsurmountable odds, it is also an amazing tribute to a grandfather. Although this book is nonfiction, it reads like a novel and was hard to put down!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    Julie Perkins Cantrell and Allen Cheney, thank you for this beautiful and inspirational story. Fred Allen, born to abject poverty and depravity, was a musical prodigy from a very young age, but he was also a lost soul, trying to fit in, looking for love and warmth. His musical talent became his savior, along with all of the mentors that guided him from the time he was a young boy and throughout his entire career. Fred’s story is incredibly moving, beautifully written by Julie Cantrell and Fred A Julie Perkins Cantrell and Allen Cheney, thank you for this beautiful and inspirational story. Fred Allen, born to abject poverty and depravity, was a musical prodigy from a very young age, but he was also a lost soul, trying to fit in, looking for love and warmth. His musical talent became his savior, along with all of the mentors that guided him from the time he was a young boy and throughout his entire career. Fred’s story is incredibly moving, beautifully written by Julie Cantrell and Fred Allen’s grandson, Allen Cheney. Music is the driving force of Fred’s life, as well as being the source of turmoil—but it is music that centers Fred as well. This book should be read by all lovers of music, by children and adults who have been dragged down by bullies and circumstances beyond their control. I wish my mother were still alive, so that she could read this book; she always said that it was music that got her through her own challenges, of which there were many; she would have loved this story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    This was a book that I debated and debated and debated about. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read it since it’s a non-fiction book. But then I also kept seeing so many great reviews about it that I felt like I was missing out on something wonderful. I kept putting it off and ultimately decided to wait and see how my July reading shaped up and promised myself that if I had some time, I would try and squeeze this one in. My mom is a pianist and its always such treat to hear her play so I felt like i This was a book that I debated and debated and debated about. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read it since it’s a non-fiction book. But then I also kept seeing so many great reviews about it that I felt like I was missing out on something wonderful. I kept putting it off and ultimately decided to wait and see how my July reading shaped up and promised myself that if I had some time, I would try and squeeze this one in. My mom is a pianist and its always such treat to hear her play so I felt like in a way, I owed it to her to read this book even if it is non-fiction—a genre that I rarely read. Not to mention the title of the book is so pitch perfect as is the cover. The fact that I kept thinking about it and wondering if I should read it, told me everything that I needed to know. I needed to find a way to fit this one in. So so so many five star reviews for this book are popping up all over the place and I can absolutely see why! While so many non-fiction books are filled with dates and facts, this book has that but it also has a heart and a soul that captures readers from the very beginning. I instantly knew I was reading something special and knowing that Fred and Winnie’s story is a true story made it even more heart warming and special. All too often it’s easy to forget a great story that is fictional for the simple reason that it is fiction. I know that I often read a stunning story and wish that it has been true and feel a pain when I remember that it isn’t. Well this book and its story are true and it makes me so happy to know that. This is a lovely uplifting story that you will continue to come back to and find something to love. I know that in the days that followed as I finished this book, I was constantly thinking back to Fred and all the love that I found in the pages. Having worked in a high school for years, I know how important the arts are so many students and this book highlighted that for me. While this book isn’t a fast paced fictionalized account of Fred and Winnie’s story that I am normally used to when it comes to reading, there is still so much heart and soul in this book. I agree with every single 5 star review. This book gets all the stars from me that’s for sure! See my full review here

  5. 5 out of 5

    Connie Masson

    Thoroughly enjoying readiing Crescendo! Love learning about the life of this man and his family in the south in the 50’s. Being from the south and being a child in the 50’s, it intrigued me to learn more about this family and what they overcame and how they succeeded. My love of music and years playing tie me to this couple. Their differing perspectives and teamwork and sacrifice all remind me of me - both of them. More to read still - 45% read. I’m a retired educator so I do not have students t Thoroughly enjoying readiing Crescendo! Love learning about the life of this man and his family in the south in the 50’s. Being from the south and being a child in the 50’s, it intrigued me to learn more about this family and what they overcame and how they succeeded. My love of music and years playing tie me to this couple. Their differing perspectives and teamwork and sacrifice all remind me of me - both of them. More to read still - 45% read. I’m a retired educator so I do not have students to encourage to read, but I would recommend it to all my past students, music lovers, dance students as well.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emily P

    An unusual story of a man whose piano skills rival those of masters, "Cresendo" reads like a fiction story with impossible odds. The amazing thing about "Cresendo" is that it is a non fiction title based on Fred Allen's real experiences. The authors narrate a book that is hard to put down, inspiring and heartbreaking, all at the same time. Can one person's musical talents change the world? How can we use our gifts to bring beauty where there is none? Will the dreams we have be feasible in this d An unusual story of a man whose piano skills rival those of masters, "Cresendo" reads like a fiction story with impossible odds. The amazing thing about "Cresendo" is that it is a non fiction title based on Fred Allen's real experiences. The authors narrate a book that is hard to put down, inspiring and heartbreaking, all at the same time. Can one person's musical talents change the world? How can we use our gifts to bring beauty where there is none? Will the dreams we have be feasible in this difficult world? Cantrell and Cheney's (Fred and Winnie's grandson) writing talents take the reader back in time to a community who doesn't know how to deal with talent such as Fred's. We then follow his journey to Juliard, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University, the Grammy stage, the offices of record companies like RCA and then back again to Thomasville, GA, with his wife, Winnie, and their daughter in tow. Can Fred return to the south, where memories continue to remind him of his past? How can he contribute to the community with the talents he has? There are no shortages of amazing events in Fred's life, and "Cresendo" is a wild ride, filled with the ups and downs of a life worth reading about. I was excited to read this book early, thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher. I chose to leave a review because this book should be an encouragement to anyone who has ever wondered if their life makes a difference in this world. Amazing book!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sharlene

    At three years of age, Fred Allen could play Mozart sonatas on the piano without missing a note. But in spite of his obvious talent, Fred’s parents discouraged him from expressing his creativity and intelligence, even going so far as locking him away from the old piano in their home. Inspirational story that while true is written with the feel of a fiction novel, in that it will capture you. This is very much a story about how one person that has every thing going against them, rises from that t At three years of age, Fred Allen could play Mozart sonatas on the piano without missing a note. But in spite of his obvious talent, Fred’s parents discouraged him from expressing his creativity and intelligence, even going so far as locking him away from the old piano in their home. Inspirational story that while true is written with the feel of a fiction novel, in that it will capture you. This is very much a story about how one person that has every thing going against them, rises from that to find success. You will want to read this book to find out exactly how Fred accomplishes that and the effect he had on so many others.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Blanchard

    This book left me filled with emotion. It's the story of the life of a musical prodigy, Fred Allen, and his wife, Winnie. Fred's life is music. He could play piano by ear from the age of three. He came from a difficult upbringing and I could feel his pain. Life is about choices and Fred loved music. We all can listen to music and have it transport us to a memory, a feeling. Fred brought this out in the children he taught. I felt such strong emotions while reading this book. From sadness to happi This book left me filled with emotion. It's the story of the life of a musical prodigy, Fred Allen, and his wife, Winnie. Fred's life is music. He could play piano by ear from the age of three. He came from a difficult upbringing and I could feel his pain. Life is about choices and Fred loved music. We all can listen to music and have it transport us to a memory, a feeling. Fred brought this out in the children he taught. I felt such strong emotions while reading this book. From sadness to happiness, fear to love. This is so much more than a love story. It is a story of finding your way in the world. It is a story of a life lived fully. This book is written by Fred's grandson, Allen Cheney and author, Julie Cantrell, and it is beautiful. It made my heart swell. His musical genius aside, Fred was a wonderful, warm, endearing man. Wonderful dialogue makes you a part of the story. Absolutely exquisite book. I loved every page. I loved learning about Fred's life. You must read this book. It is profound what one little life can do.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    This book is the perfect story of how one person can make a difference in someone’s life. Fred Allen grew up in a home that offered him very little in life. But throughout his life Fred was fortunate to encounter here and there that special someone who could see the worth in Fred even though Fred could not see it in himself. The story is beautifully written, taking us on Fred’s journey as he works to make it in New York City. His determination and strong work ethics open many doors for him. It w This book is the perfect story of how one person can make a difference in someone’s life. Fred Allen grew up in a home that offered him very little in life. But throughout his life Fred was fortunate to encounter here and there that special someone who could see the worth in Fred even though Fred could not see it in himself. The story is beautifully written, taking us on Fred’s journey as he works to make it in New York City. His determination and strong work ethics open many doors for him. It was so inspiring to read of his successes. But with his eyes focused on the pinnacle of success he does not recognize the damage it is doing to his marriage. So well written is the story that my heart ached right along with his wife Winnie’s heartbreaking. I felt myself torn as did Fred – he had to make a choice. Fame is within his reach – but he can’t have it and his family. After a complete meltdown, Fred decides that he cannot lose his family. By a true miracle he finds himself in Thomasville, Georgia just when the Thomasville United Methodist Church is looking for a Music Director. He gets the job and “the rest is history”. He eventually became a high school music teacher and, along with his wife, formed the Thomasville Music & Drama Troupe. Through his mentorship with the students he was able to actually change their lives – because they encountered that one person who recognized their worth. I am grateful for the opportunity to read this beautiful story. Thank you to Tall Poppies and NetGalley for the advance copy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Miss W Book Reviews

    Crescendo is an incredible story that is heartwarming as much as it is heartbreaking. Set in a cotton mill southern georgia town, the well written imagery enables the reader to see the story of a man who overcame the greatest of odds to bless others with his musical talent. This is a story of an incredible musical genius and surviving against all odds. This is an amazing book that should be read by everyone. If you love music, this book will make your heart sing. If you have been bullied or hurt Crescendo is an incredible story that is heartwarming as much as it is heartbreaking. Set in a cotton mill southern georgia town, the well written imagery enables the reader to see the story of a man who overcame the greatest of odds to bless others with his musical talent. This is a story of an incredible musical genius and surviving against all odds. This is an amazing book that should be read by everyone. If you love music, this book will make your heart sing. If you have been bullied or hurt, this will make you feel a triumph in your soul that is indescribable. This is a story I will not soon forget, nor do I want to.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    You don't have to be a musician to enjoy this very sweet, true story of a deeply talented man and his family, including his wonderful wife. I won't recap the story, but I really liked rooting for Fred and I relished his talent and successes. This is literature, so there are no action scenes, and majority of it is in third person. But there are ups and downs, and it is heartwarming in the end. It's great to be reminded there are people like Fred and Winnie! 4.5 stars. Recommended. I really appreci You don't have to be a musician to enjoy this very sweet, true story of a deeply talented man and his family, including his wonderful wife. I won't recap the story, but I really liked rooting for Fred and I relished his talent and successes. This is literature, so there are no action scenes, and majority of it is in third person. But there are ups and downs, and it is heartwarming in the end. It's great to be reminded there are people like Fred and Winnie! 4.5 stars. Recommended. I really appreciate the ARC for review!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy

    I had never heard about this Fred Allen and his wife Winnie and their achievements working with youth. Fred began his life in poverty, neglect and abuse, yet he was an intellectual and musical genius. What also set him apart is his way of reaching people through his music and love. This biography reads almost like fiction--no dry facts and dates here--and this is a credit to the authors. I was drawn in by the people in the book and by the life Fred chose, considering the many opportunities he ha I had never heard about this Fred Allen and his wife Winnie and their achievements working with youth. Fred began his life in poverty, neglect and abuse, yet he was an intellectual and musical genius. What also set him apart is his way of reaching people through his music and love. This biography reads almost like fiction--no dry facts and dates here--and this is a credit to the authors. I was drawn in by the people in the book and by the life Fred chose, considering the many opportunities he had. This book is sure to please anyone who ever sang in a choir under a gifted director or had a special teacher. I wish I had been able to see one of the performances by the Troupe. I received a free copy of this book from Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I don't read a lot of non-fiction but when I saw this book, I had to read it. And I am really glad that I did. In this day and age with heroes being sports figures or actors, this is the story of a real hero. A man who had a gift that he shared with his students and subsequently made them not only better students but more importantly better citizens of the world. This is the story of a life well lived. Of a man who had nothing but ended up with love and respect from so many people. Fred Allen has I don't read a lot of non-fiction but when I saw this book, I had to read it. And I am really glad that I did. In this day and age with heroes being sports figures or actors, this is the story of a real hero. A man who had a gift that he shared with his students and subsequently made them not only better students but more importantly better citizens of the world. This is the story of a life well lived. Of a man who had nothing but ended up with love and respect from so many people. Fred Allen has helped the life of many children who may have been lost without him. He is a real hero for this modern age. This biography was lovingly written by his grandson Allen Cheney in collaboration with Julie Cantrell. If you want a book that makes you feel uplifted, this is the book for you.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jan Ward

    To see the story of a person who beats his past into a victory and then becomes a master teacher will lift your day and inspire you to teach the students (who may or may not be in a school and you may or may not be an official teacher) who come into your life. This story of Winnie and Fred Allen is so full of love and yet the struggle to overcome hard things will inspire and encourage. At the close of the book, I could only say, "Thank you, Lord". To see the story of a person who beats his past into a victory and then becomes a master teacher will lift your day and inspire you to teach the students (who may or may not be in a school and you may or may not be an official teacher) who come into your life. This story of Winnie and Fred Allen is so full of love and yet the struggle to overcome hard things will inspire and encourage. At the close of the book, I could only say, "Thank you, Lord".

  15. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Book Review Crescendo: The True Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town by Authors Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell Where do I begin... This story, a true story, had me completely and utterly captivated. It all began in rural, small-town Georgia, surrounded by the the infamous Cotton Mills during The Great Depression. A child born into poverty, neglect and abuse. As the young musical prodigy, Fred Allen, faces dire circumstance and despicable acts hovering around every corner at Book Review Crescendo: The True Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town by Authors Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell Where do I begin... This story, a true story, had me completely and utterly captivated. It all began in rural, small-town Georgia, surrounded by the the infamous Cotton Mills during The Great Depression. A child born into poverty, neglect and abuse. As the young musical prodigy, Fred Allen, faces dire circumstance and despicable acts hovering around every corner at the hands of his parents and a slew of un-desireables, and while craving normalcy and the mere survival from the monsters that lurk, Fred is given the saving grace he desperately needs at the hands of some who will stop at nothing to lift him, protect him and become instrumental in his growth as the boy and musical genius he is and deserves to be... As Fred forges through tragedy to triumph into his adult years, and throws himself into all avenues accessible within the Musical Arts sector- a deep-seeded haunt surfaces and threatens to destroy all he's gained as it throws him into a tailspin. Full of self-sabotage and darkness that threatens his very existence, his "truest of friends" and his one true love and wife, Winnie, with her never-ending love and hope for her husband as well as her sheer determination not to let him fall, pull him back into the life he now knows he's deserving of and meant to live, along with unforeseen successes he never could have imagined or dreamt possible. Crescendo is a beautiful, heartbreaking, yet joyful and fascinating look into a world of promise, chances and change, appreciation and devotion- and by putting one's faith and courage above all, positive influence and its ripple effects can be extraordinary. I thank authors Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell for allowing me the pleasure of this meaningful and purposeful journey through the eyes of Fred and Winnie Allen- an experience I won't soon forget. I would also like to thank The Allen Family for giving of themselves such a personal gift...one to inspire. 5+ Stars #Crescendo: A True Story #Allen Cheney #JulieCantrell Wild Sage Book Blog (FB) Novels N Latte Book Club

  16. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    This was such a good book! It was uplifting, it was a hard to put down book! I didn’t really realize it was nonfiction, it flowed so well! Thanks to Netgalley for the early copy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This story is absolutely captivating and takes the reader on a journey of how one life can rise out of pure brokenness and impact thousands of others for the better. The heart behind this story is absolutely stunning! It leaves the reader asking, what am I going to do with the gifts, talents, and one life I’ve been given? I’d say that all teachers and musicians need to read this story but that’s not it. Everyone needs to read this inspiring story. Can’t wait to see this turned into a movie! With This story is absolutely captivating and takes the reader on a journey of how one life can rise out of pure brokenness and impact thousands of others for the better. The heart behind this story is absolutely stunning! It leaves the reader asking, what am I going to do with the gifts, talents, and one life I’ve been given? I’d say that all teachers and musicians need to read this story but that’s not it. Everyone needs to read this inspiring story. Can’t wait to see this turned into a movie! Within the first few pages you can already see it! Well done, Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Go into this book knowing that it's a hagiography, and Fred Allen is presented as practically perfect. Born with a cowl (that is, his mother's water didn't break, which was a sign of something), Allen showed musical gifts from a very young age, playing songs he'd only heard once. He also had natural charisma and was very good at school—which in a small, poor, Southern community was all the proof needed to confirm some's superstitions that he was cursed in some way. But others saw Allen's extraor Go into this book knowing that it's a hagiography, and Fred Allen is presented as practically perfect. Born with a cowl (that is, his mother's water didn't break, which was a sign of something), Allen showed musical gifts from a very young age, playing songs he'd only heard once. He also had natural charisma and was very good at school—which in a small, poor, Southern community was all the proof needed to confirm some's superstitions that he was cursed in some way. But others saw Allen's extraordinary gifts as something that needed to be taught, cultivated into the shape it was meant to be, which was surely going to be glorious. (When I first got this book, I was concerned about how Evangelical it would get. Fortunately, it strikes just the right balance—although Fred Allen doesn't start religious, the fact that he plays the organ and directs choirs at so many churches does influence his life. Many characters in the book proclaim Allen to be a blessing from God, and the way the book is written could support that, but it's not as though the purpose of the book is to convince its readers that this is the case, or even to convert its readers to Christianity. So much of the first half is perfect. Allen studies with the right teachers who get him to the right schools who get him to the right choirs and give him the right connections, ever higher in talent...and in class. He falls in love with his eventual wife at first glance, and for awhile they have nothing but bliss in their family, even after they have a baby girl. He earns an executive job at RCA, spending work and leisure time with huge singers and actors of the day. But just as I was getting frustrated with this perfect guy doing everything perfectly, he has his existential crisis, which warrants a content warning for pedophilia. A repressed memory from his childhood resurfaces, revealing that he'd been regularly sexually abused by his "uncle" and other people who boarded at his house. Suddenly, a whole bunch of other actions made sense (I'm experienced that rush of things suddenly clicking, even though I wasn't the one)—why a certain aunt defended him from that "uncle," why certain people in the neighborhood got protective, etc. But what broke him wasn't so much the sexual act, but the fact that his parents let it happen, as did almost everyone else he thought he could trust, and his life was a lie. This caused him to enter into a drunken, downward spiral, with his wife taking his daughter and moving away. But he works it out, and soon he leaves his corporate job to teach high school and direct church choirs, until he combines all these forces into a notable theater and dance troupe. This saves some kids from certain doom in their future and revitalizes some of the older folks who are drawn in by the oldest show tunes. Um, be a good person; the end. I received this book from a Goodreads Giveaway sponsored by Thomas Nelson. I entered as a joke, because so many authors misuse the word Crescendo, saying a character "reached a crescendo" when a crescendo is the act of reaching, not the arrival point, unless you are literally arriving at a crescendo in a work of music. This book uses "reached a/the crescendo" twice that I found, using it correctly once and incorrectly once. Still, 50% is better than average.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I started this book with no expectations. I’ve never been big into biographies and thought, ok let’s give this one a try and see. I was absolutely, completely, emotionally, physically, mentally, lovingly, blown away. From the first to the very last word, including all the letters and all the thanks at the end. This is a book everyone I know needs to read. A huge must on your TBR list. This book was an emotional rollercoaster that takes you on a ride you possibly won’t ever forget. The story of Fr I started this book with no expectations. I’ve never been big into biographies and thought, ok let’s give this one a try and see. I was absolutely, completely, emotionally, physically, mentally, lovingly, blown away. From the first to the very last word, including all the letters and all the thanks at the end. This is a book everyone I know needs to read. A huge must on your TBR list. This book was an emotional rollercoaster that takes you on a ride you possibly won’t ever forget. The story of Fred and Winnie. Fred who came from a horrific and dirt poor place filled with hurt and shame, to rise up and do great things. Winnie, the love of his life from a well to do family filled with love and laughter. Together they are unstoppable, wonderful, powerful, but also just down to earth people who love greatly, gently, emotionally and fully. Fred had many problems but with Winnie by his side he was able to achieve things he never thought possible. Through some nightmares that he had put away, pushed down so deeply he had all but forgotten them, to when he pushed Winnie and Allison away. Coming back together stronger than ever and with so much love you will believe with all your heart that anything can be achieved in life if you try hard enough and have someone, maybe lots of someone’s, helping hold you up along the way. Through odds there were definitely not on his side Fred did the things he truly wanted to do in his life. Through fame and then humbleness he accomplished things he never thought he could. This book touches on things that will make you hold your breathe, cringe in places and cry those big ugly tears that cleanse your soul. It will take you on a journey that will lift your spirit and make you believe in life again in a whole new light. It’s absolutely the most beautiful book I have ever read in my whole life and I have read lots and lots. This one touched me in ways no other book ever has. Because it really happened it is even more special. It’s not exactly written like most biographies that I have tried to read. It’s a story with ups and downs. Written by Fred Allen’s grandson and that makes it even that much more special. I honestly have no words that will truly express how much this book, this beautiful story, touched my soul, my heart, my mind and my most secret feelings about life. It’s just a great book and told in ways that you won’t want to put it down. I have to thank #NetGalley, #Thomas Nelson for this wonderful copy. This review is my own feelings and thoughts. Straight from my heart. A huge, big, wonderful 5 stars and worth so many more. I most highly recommend this book to you all.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dan Curnutt

    What an interesting book detailing the life of Fred Allen a man who was gifted with a musical talent that he used to change everyone around him. The book tells the story of his life from when he was poor and neglected by his family to when he was pushed and prodded by teachers who saw the gift that he had been blessed with. It’s a great testimony to what can happen for any person when others take interest in them and help them to fulfill their gifts and dreams. Fred wasn’t just handed a gifted li What an interesting book detailing the life of Fred Allen a man who was gifted with a musical talent that he used to change everyone around him. The book tells the story of his life from when he was poor and neglected by his family to when he was pushed and prodded by teachers who saw the gift that he had been blessed with. It’s a great testimony to what can happen for any person when others take interest in them and help them to fulfill their gifts and dreams. Fred wasn’t just handed a gifted life, he had to work hard to attain it. He worked hard. He practiced often. He took every chance that he was given to pursue teaching others the love of music. He had to overcome parents who tried their hardest to push him down and destroy his love for music. But God wouldn’t let Fred alone. He allowed him to learn music from just hearing it. He allowed him to sing, play piano and also conduct, all so that others could learn. From being part of a special Choral group, to hosting a radio program Fred found himself immersed in music. He then fell in love and the woman of his attentions was also musically gifted. Together they will bring the love of music to a small town in Georgia and make beautiful music together as well as move others to reach their own high levels of musical talent. The book is a great inspirational read for everyone. You will be encouraged by how a talent given by God to one young man could change hundreds.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Lynn

    I am a music fan so that is the first reason I picked up this book. The second reason? Look at this cover with the beautiful background and the wonderful grand piano (which I dream of owning one day). Seeing the cover had me knowing that I had to read this book. Once I read the first chapter I knew that I was hooked on an amazing, uplifting, and true story that would leave me thinking about the story of Fred and Winnie Allen long after I would finish the book. Fred is born to a family of lower-c I am a music fan so that is the first reason I picked up this book. The second reason? Look at this cover with the beautiful background and the wonderful grand piano (which I dream of owning one day). Seeing the cover had me knowing that I had to read this book. Once I read the first chapter I knew that I was hooked on an amazing, uplifting, and true story that would leave me thinking about the story of Fred and Winnie Allen long after I would finish the book. Fred is born to a family of lower-class citizens, they work hard, drink hard, and see no way out of the life they are living. Luckily for Fred, there were some people in his life that showed him another way to live. They lifted him up when he fell, showed him the right path when he was tempted to go a different way, and they showed him the support when he was faltering in his career choices. There were amazing teachers that gave him the courage to continue making his music. The friends that did not judge him for his family and welcomed him into their circles without judgment. Most importantly there was Winnie, his wife. She loved him, she supported him, she took risks with him, and she let him spread his wings so that he could live the life he dreamed of. I was not familiar with Fred Allens’ story before I picked up this book but I now know his story and am thrilled that I do. I’ve talked about it to my friends and I’ve already recommended this book to others.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan (The Book Bag)

    Crescendo starts as a heartbreaking, sad story about a very talented, abused little boy which turns into an upbeat and inspiring tale of a brilliantly successful and admired man. This book is based on real people and is a real accounting of their lives but it reads like a wonderfully woven work of fiction. Fred Allen and his wife, Winnie are amazing people who have lived a beautiful life together, making a difference in so many people's lives. It wasn't always an easy life, but their love for ea Crescendo starts as a heartbreaking, sad story about a very talented, abused little boy which turns into an upbeat and inspiring tale of a brilliantly successful and admired man. This book is based on real people and is a real accounting of their lives but it reads like a wonderfully woven work of fiction. Fred Allen and his wife, Winnie are amazing people who have lived a beautiful life together, making a difference in so many people's lives. It wasn't always an easy life, but their love for each other and their shared love of music helped get them through the hard times. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Crescendo and learning as much as I did about these two very special people. This is a story that let me delve deeper into the music world and left me with an appreciation for the good that people can do if they follow their passion.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Croucier

    Wow, just Wow. This was an amazing story from beginning to end, even more so because it is a true story. The story took me by surprise and captivated me until the end. I went into this without knowing much about Fred Allen and ended it with such a huge respect for him and his accomplishments. This book is a testament to how one person can make a difference in someone’s life. Uplifting, inspirational, and beautifully written, this is a biography that should not b missed. It I so well-done, you w Wow, just Wow. This was an amazing story from beginning to end, even more so because it is a true story. The story took me by surprise and captivated me until the end. I went into this without knowing much about Fred Allen and ended it with such a huge respect for him and his accomplishments. This book is a testament to how one person can make a difference in someone’s life. Uplifting, inspirational, and beautifully written, this is a biography that should not b missed. It I so well-done, you will forget that this is non-fiction. Crescendo is absolutely one that shouldn’t be missed. #tallpoppywriters #bloomreads #JulieCantrell #AllenCheney #ThomasNelson #Crescendo

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    A beautiful biography of a very humble and talented man! I would compare this story to Unbroken by Hillebrand, even though it's a completely different setting. Like Louis Zambrini of Unbroken was an athletic prodigy, Fred Allen, the unforgettable subject of Crescendo, was incomparably talented at music. They both came from very humble beginnings...Mr. Allen's were as humble as it gets. Like in Unbroken, Mr. Allen's life takes a long and wandering path before reaching a beautiful ending. I would A beautiful biography of a very humble and talented man! I would compare this story to Unbroken by Hillebrand, even though it's a completely different setting. Like Louis Zambrini of Unbroken was an athletic prodigy, Fred Allen, the unforgettable subject of Crescendo, was incomparably talented at music. They both came from very humble beginnings...Mr. Allen's were as humble as it gets. Like in Unbroken, Mr. Allen's life takes a long and wandering path before reaching a beautiful ending. I would have loved to have known a teacher like Mr. Allen.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Trinia

    I do love a sweet surprise in a book that I have pushed down my "to read" list, and this one did not disappoint! A beautiful story of a man who started with nothing, abused and belittled only to become a truly talented, caring and hard working model of a family man. And it's written by his grandson. I recommend this book to any musician, teacher, parent or lover of happy endings. Definitely a favorite for me. This book should be an inspiration to every human being of how to be the best person you I do love a sweet surprise in a book that I have pushed down my "to read" list, and this one did not disappoint! A beautiful story of a man who started with nothing, abused and belittled only to become a truly talented, caring and hard working model of a family man. And it's written by his grandson. I recommend this book to any musician, teacher, parent or lover of happy endings. Definitely a favorite for me. This book should be an inspiration to every human being of how to be the best person you can be. A solid 5 Stars!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    If we are lucky, we have had at least one person in our lives who has made an impact. It may have been an encouraging word when we most needed it, a group we joined and benefited from, something that created a turning point in our life when we most needed it. Fred & Winnie Allen provides that for countless students in Thomasville. This is a beautiful story about a man born into poverty and harsh familial conditions who, through music, found love, self-acceptance, and his true purpose in life.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Barbre

    Probably my favorite read of the year. "Fred Allen's story reminds us that there is no art without courage and that significance in life is measured not by the gifts we're given but by the gifts we give." Probably my favorite read of the year. "Fred Allen's story reminds us that there is no art without courage and that significance in life is measured not by the gifts we're given but by the gifts we give."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lucia Hassen

    Although not the best written book in the world, I couldn’t put it down. I found the story of Fred Allen fascinating and heartwarming. Best of all, I loved how it communicated the power and meaning of music.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I liked the book but the style of writing, while easy to read, kind of washed out the emotion. The ending felt a little too "goody two shoes" for me. Be prepared for a lot of moralizing with what feels like stiff precepts. It was an enjoyable read, just not going to go down as one I'll think and remember forever. I liked the book but the style of writing, while easy to read, kind of washed out the emotion. The ending felt a little too "goody two shoes" for me. Be prepared for a lot of moralizing with what feels like stiff precepts. It was an enjoyable read, just not going to go down as one I'll think and remember forever.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    This biography was well researched and contained a lot of information that I hadn’t previously read in other books. The author’s attention to detail is evident in the writing. Highly recommend!

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