Former Southside Chicago resident, Craig "Rex" Perry (www.rexstudios.net) returns to Chicago during the first week in May to promote the first book in his new children's series, The Soul of Harmony, during Children's Book Week, May 1-7, 2017.
The Soul of Harmony was inspired by the life of Robert Johnson, a 1920s blues singer and guitarist who is considered one of the greatest blues performers of all time. His songs, including hits "Sweet Home Chicago", "Hellhound on My Trail", and, "Crossroad Blues" have been recorded by Muddy Waters, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. Johnson died unexpectedly at the age of 27. He claims to have taken his guitar to a crossroads and made a 'deal with the devil' for his musical gifts.
During his time at Disney, Perry thought this would make a great animated cartoon. "I realized that Walt Disney's success was built largely on folktales or stories that are considered public domain. These include Snow White, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast to name a few. I had listened to a few of Robert Johnson's early recordings, read up on his tragic and mysterious life and knew this would be a great place to create my own original animated concept," says Perry.
Colorful and charming, the book offers a unique story set in 1932 New Orleans that flows through the Mississippi Delta and makes its way to the speakeasies and nightclubs of Chicago. The story revolves around seven year old, Harmony Walker, her father, unemployed jazz/bluesman John "Eazy" Walker and his wife, Howard University graduate, Sarah Walker. Harmony makes a deal with a pawnshop owner to acquire a new mouthpiece for her dad; but unbeknownst to the little girl, the mouthpiece has magic powers that bestow fame and fortune on the Walker family. The pawnshop owner (an evil demon in disguise named Demonica Shadows) wants their souls in exchange for the mouthpiece.
"I pitched the story as a feature length animated cartoon all over Hollywood, but while everyone liked the concept; finding the financing was difficult. I knew that if I wanted it done, I'd have to do it myself. So I took the individual storyboards I used in my pitches, rewrote and illustrated them as a children's book, got a book deal and the rest is history," says Perry.
The Soul of Harmony, a three book series published by Cedar Grove Publishing (www.cedargrovebooks.com), is an action-adventure, good versus evil plot that hinges on the love of family and redemption. The first book is entitled The Soul of Harmony: The Promise.