ADDRESSES: Home—Philadelphia, PA. Agent—HarperCollins Publishers, 7th Fl., 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Writer. Has worked as a court reporter, waitress, bartender, dancer, singer, model, and "numbers runner." Vocalist with musical group Sweethearts of Soul.
NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM SLIM LAMBRIGHT
The Justus Girls, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
The Sweethearts of Soul, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Evelyn Lambright, who writes under the name Slim Lambright, was unemployed and nearly bankrupt when she decided to take a writing class. About a year later, she had composed a draft of her first novel, The Justus Girls, and won a publishing contract. Both The Justus Girls and Lambright's follow-up, The Sweethearts of Soul, deal with friendship among strong African-American women.
The Justus Girls traces the lives of four Philadelphians who participated in a drill team of that name (in real life, Lambright was a drill team member) in girlhood and became close friends but later drifted apart. One of the women, Peaches, is murdered at age forty-three, and the remaining three come together to investigate her killing. In doing so they become involved once again in each other's lives. Lambright delves into the past and the present, showing how the women have been affected by various political and social phenomena—the civil rights movement, women's liberation, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)—as well as by their career choices and romances. "Though many issues are addressed within this novel, Lambright shows genius in not weighing the story down with an overcrowded plot," observed Althia Gamble in the Black Issues Book Review. A Publishers Weekly critic thought the novel's historical background "derivative" and its characters "rife with cliché," but allowed that The Justus Girls is "a good yarn" with a moving portrayal of female friendship. Gamble found the protagonists "well developed, real, likeable and outrageously funny." School Library Journal contributor Joyce Fay Fletcher praised Lambright for her "humor and vivid descriptions of urban teenage life of an earlier generation," while Booklist reviewer Lillian Lewis pronounced The Justus Girls a "good first book."
The Sweethearts of Soul also focuses on a female four-some: the members of a Philadelphia singing group of that name. (Lambright also sang with a group called the Sweethearts of Soul.) The group enjoyed great success during the 1960s, but like the women in The Justus Girls, its members have grown apart over the years. The group's members' interviews with young reporter Laverne "Legs" Diamond eventually reveal "the whole, painful, hilarious story," noted Monique W. Morris in Black Issues Book Review. Lambright "presents an enchanting portrait of a place and time," related a Publishers Weekly commentator, while a Kirkus Reviews critic concluded that the novel is "sentimental at times, sure, but in a Dickensian way that's thoroughly entertaining."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, July, 2001, Althia Gamble, review of The Justus Girls, p. 29; January-February, 2005, Monique W. Morris, review of The Sweethearts of Soul, p. 64.
Booklist, May 1, 2001, Lillian Lewis, review of The Justus Girls, p. 1666.
Detroit Free Press, June 29, 2001, Nicole Volta Avery, review of The Justus Girls.
Essence, July, 2001, Patrik Henry Bass, review of The Justus Girls, p. 50.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of The Sweethearts of Soul, p. 932.
People, July 23, 2001, review of The Justus Girls, p. 43.
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2000, John F. Baker, "The Right Life for a Writer,"p. 18; June 25, 2001, review of The Justus Girls, p. 47; November 22, 2004, review of The Sweethearts of Soul, p. 39.
School Library Journal, January, 2002, Joyce Fay Fletcher, review of The Justus Girls, p. 170.
Blackflix.com, http://www.blackflix.com/ (April 14, 2005), review of The Justus Girls.