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Sights, Sounds, Soul

Sights, Sounds, Soul

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The Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis

Photography Charles Chamblis, Text Davu Seru

Minnesota Historical Society Press (November 1, 2017)

A photographic celebration of musicians, artists, and everyday scenes from the Twin Cities African American community of the 1970s and ’80s by a renowned local photographer.


During the 1970s and ’80s, photographer Charles Chamblis captured the vibrant social and artistic life of the Twin Cities African American community. Musicians and other artists are shown performing, dancing, and interacting with enthusiastic audiences at once-thriving but now lost clubs, such as the Taste Show Lounge, Riverview Supper Club, Fox Trap, Nacirema Club, and others on Minneapolis’s north and south sides. Among the legendary soul, funk, and R&B acts depicted are Flyte Tyme, Prophets of Peace, Terry Lewis, Jimmy Jam, Morris Day, Prince, and many other influential musicians who helped establish the so-called Minneapolis Sound. Beyond the nightlife, Chamblis’s portraits, images of family gatherings and weddings, fashion photography, landscapes, and photos of community events offer intimate and rare glimpses into the life of African Americans in the Twin Cities at these particular moments in time.

Contemporary writer and artist Davu Seru brings these photos to life with introductory text and supplemental essays that put this visual celebration into the context of the day as well as that of the Twin Cities community in the twenty-first century. Chamblis’s images offer a trip back in time and leave a legacy unlike any other photographer’s.

Author information

Charles Chamblis received his first camera in the early 1960s and from there pursued a photographic career, contributing to publications and taking on individual assignments. He died in 1991.

Minneapolis native Davu Seru is an internationally known jazz drummer and a scholar of African American literature and culture.

Reviews and news

The Current's Rock and Roll Bookclub

Fox 9 with M.A. Rosko

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Star Tribune

Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder review

Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder interview

City Pages



​KFAI/Conversations with Al McFarlane (July 2017, before publication of the book)

Finalist for a Minnesota Book Award

Related resources

Inventory of photos by Charles Chamblis at the Minnesota Historical Society

Video: Collections Up Close: Charles Chamblis Photography Collection

Minnesota History article: PunkFunkRockPop

Articles about the "Sights, Sounds and Soul: Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis" exhibit at the Minnesota History Center from April 26, 2014-February 16, 2015
Washington Post
Star Tribune
MplsStPaul Magazine
Pioneer Press
The Current
Minneapolis Sound News

  • 160 pages
  • 175 color and 25 b&w photos
  • 10x10 inches
  • ISBN: 9781681340647

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