Craft-minded series: Placing Yourself in Broader Historical Contexts, featuring Danyel Smith

Oct 10, 2022

Danyel Smith

This week Write-minded is exploring the ways authors place themselves into stories with broader cultural or historical contexts. Guest Danyel Smith has done just that with her new genre-crossing book, Shine Bright, that’s both an examination of black female music artists and those artists’ impact on Danyel. Books like these are popular and often difficult to pull off, since writers must be aware of the balance between journalism and personal story—which is why Shine Bright is such a satisfying example of how to do this style of writing well. As a bonus, this episode also offers up a music fandom, an inside story about Whitney Houston, and a peek behind the curtain of Danyel’s journey with this book.


Award-winning journalist Danyel Smith is author of Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop. Danyel is also creator/host of Black Girl Songbook, a podcast that centers the sounds and stories of black women. She’s been a producer and writer at ESPN, editor of Billboard, and the first woman and first black person to serve as editor-in-chief of VIBE. She has written two novels and her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and at NPR.

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