Brant, Marley 1950-
BRANT, Marley 1950-
PERSONAL: Born July 26, 1950 in Syracuse, NY; daughter of Herbert and Gladys Olmstead; married David Bruegger; children: Tim Bruegger. Education: Attended Lee Strasberg Theater Institute; California State University—Northridge, B.A. (political science). Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: History, travel, music, film, and people.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Billboard Books, 770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.
CAREER: Chrysalis Records, Beverly Hills, CA, assistant national director of artist development, 1976-78; Paramount Television, Hollywood, CA, publicist, 1980-81; ICPR Public Relations, Los Angeles, CA, publicist, 1981-83; record producer, 1983-91; author, 1992—.
MEMBER: National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Publicists Guild of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Grammy Award nominee; Georgia Author of the Year nominee.
The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood, Madison Books (Lanham, MD), 1992.
Outlaws: The Illustrated History of the James-YoungerGang, Elliott & Clark (Montgomery, AL), 1997.
Southern Rockers: The Roots and Legacy of Southern Rock, Billboard Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Freebirds: The Lynyrd Skynyrd Story, Billboard Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Tales from the Rock and Roll Highway, Billboard Books (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Marley Brant told CA: "Very unique and special circumstances experienced while on a vacation trip to Missouri led me into the field of outlaws. I had worked in the entertainment field for many years and only after the publication of my first book did I realize that my affinity for outlaws continued to be a driving factor in my career as an author. What are music personalities, if not the outlaws of the here and now? I continue to meet these captivating personalities through my work and, as I did with Jessie James and the Younger Brothers, experience entertaining challenges as I attempt to tell of their lives and times."
Brant parlayed her interest into such books as The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood and Jesse James: The Man and the Myth. In the latter work, Brant shows that while the legendary outlaw indeed earned some of his reputation as a train robber, bank robber and occasional gunslinger, "folklore, distortions and outright lies have shrouded the facts of Jesse's life," according to Wild West contributor Sierre Adare. As Adare related, Brant delves into James's early years in Missouri, uncovering a pattern of misfortune (a father who deserted; a mother with a "preference for Jesse's older brother, Frank") that led the younger brother to join a band of Confederate-supporting guerillas during the Civil War years. James felt he had made the right decision; "he was striking out at the Union Army's barbarity in dealing with Missouri's innocent women and children," wrote Adare. "Brant reveals the politics behind the Union government's continued terrorization of the James family after the war and the psychological profile of the guerilla turned avenging angel."
Brant told Adare that the information about James's home state helped inspire her book; "I hadn't realized just how strongly Missouri was involved in the War between the States," she said. As for the outlaw life of Jesse James, the author concluded that it "was not glamorous." Brant acknowledges that James was involved in some of the major crimes he was accused of, "but not in the beginning." Then there were what she calls the "copycats," feeding off James's reputation. They were easily identified: "Robbing stagecoaches and a gambling boat just wasn't Jesse's style." Nor was James the "Robin Hood" archetype later credited to him; according to Brant, he never doled out his ill-gotten money to the ravaged people of postwar Missouri, but "what he did was return their self-esteem."
Southern topics also enter into Brant's writing about music, her first career. A former music executive, Brant is the author of Southern Rockers: The Roots and Legacy of Southern Rock and Freebirds: The Lynyrd Skynyrd Story. In a review for Popular Music and Society, S. Renee Dechert deemed Southern Rockers "the first comprehensive history" of a genre "whose artists have, on occasion, been labeled 'redneck bands.'" Such stereotyping often led to a diminished reputation for the musicians. Brant, noted Dechert, "attempts to correct these oversights." The author profiles such stadium-packing groups as the Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, and .38 Special, as well as lesser-known artists like the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Dechert found a "few problems" in Brant's cataloging, noting that she "omits Black Oak Arkansas, the Dixie Dregs, and Elvin Bishop, questioning that any of these bands represent 'southern rock.'" Still, the critic concluded that in this volume the author "has done a good job . . . showing the relationships between bands emerging from a culture that has always valued community."
One southern-rock group in particular caught Brant's attention. She produced a separate book, Freebirds, about Lynyrd Skynyrd, mainly because "she feels the band is barely covered by the media and yet has some of the best guitar players and songwriters in the business," according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kaye Cagle. The journalist added that Brant's "behind the scenes account of the group's climb to fame, band relationships, broken contracts, drugs, criminal charges and legal entanglements make for an in-depth report." Booklist's Mike Tribby praised the author's "conversational, even chummy prose befitting a band that enjoys a community of fans and friends."
Brant continued her work in the field of music with Tales from the Rock and Roll Highway. Published in 2003 by Billboard Books, Tales from the Rock and Roll Highway features first-person stories collected from rock and roll artists from the 1950s to the present.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 9, 2002, Kaye Cagle, "Southern Rock Gets Crusader," p. JF3.
Biography, spring, 2003, David M. Halbfinger, review of Freebirds: The Lynyrd Skynyrd Story, p. 392.
Booklist, June 1, 1999, Mike Tribby, review of Southern Rockers: The Roots and Legacy of Southern Rock, p. 1765; January 1, 2002, Tribby, review of Freebirds, p 788.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 6, 1993, review of The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood, p. 6.
New York Times Book Review, October 20, 2002, David M. Halbfinger, review of Freebirds, p. 16.
Popular Music and Society, fall, 2000, S. Renee Dechert, review of Southern Rockers, p. 138.
Roundup, February, 1998, review of Outlaws: The Illustrated History of the James-Younger Gang, p. 23; August, 1998, Jesse James: The Man and the Myth, p. 22.
Wild West, April, 1998, review of Outlaws, p. 64; August, 1998, Sierre Adare, "Marley Brant Sets the Record Straight on Outlaw Jesse James" (interview), p. 62.