Roxane Orgill comes to writing children’s books through journalism.
She worked as a music critic for more than twenty years, starting as a freelance writer with the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and much later for the Wall Street Journal, with staff jobs at the Milwaukee Journal and the (Bergen County) Record in between. She began writing about music in college as a way to bring her two passions, writing and music, together. Today she enjoys studying and playing Baroque recorders.
As a music critic Roxane was assigned to write news and feature stories, which required her to ask a lot of questions. Wanting to know more and to go deeper — also to take more time— led her to writing books, starting with If I Only Had a Horn, a picture book about young Louis Armstrong, in 1997. More biographies followed—gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, Fred and Adele Astaire, Ella Fitzgerald— all published by Candlewick Press. For adults, she wrote about Count Basie, race, and politics in the 1930s in Dream Lucky: When FDR was in the White House, Count Basie was on the radio, and everyone wore a hat. . .(2008).
While pondering Art Kane’s famous photograph Harlem 1958, of a large group of jazz musicians standing in front of a Harlem brownstone, Roxane wondered how it happened and who the musicians were. She found herself writing a poem, then another. Eventually the poems became the core of Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph, illustrated by Francis Vallejo (Candlewick, 2016).
Her next book, also in poetry, will be about the start of the American Revolution in Boston.
Roxane is a graduate of Glenbrook North High School, the University of Illinois, and King’s College London. She lives with her husband and son in Dobbs Ferry, New York.