Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

Beautiful cover.  Beautiful story.  Reminds me of mr Holland’s opus.   If you have ever been loved by and inspired by a teacher read this book.  And teachers read this to know that what you do matters to many
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This book appealed to me because it looked soulful, creative, and deep. I did not know anything about the story beforehand. First, I'll tell you that this was a well-crafted story. Being able to tell history in such a powerful way is a gift. Allen Cheney is a gifted story teller. Second, this is a story that will make you gasp and bring you to tears. I do not want to share any spoilers, but I want you to experience this man's story.

You can read the info about the book to see that this is a book that tells the story of a man that was a musical genius. He had risen to the top of his game as a producer when he came face to face with a mental breakdown brought on by the trauma of his childhood. That caused him to wrestle with some huge decisions in his life. You can see how that all played out in the subtitle. He changed the lives of countless people with his passion, gifting, and by sharing his healing. 

The words in these pages shone like a bright light in my heart. Our healed hurt is the richest of gifts when we share it with others. It was a good reminder for me. I am grateful to have read it.

Some favorite quotes:

"When someone we know starts to forget they have something to offer, it's our job to remind them."

"It's about the light you shine for others, not the light that shines on you."
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This is such a heart-touching novel that shows the power of love and how each person's life can affect another persons in profound ways. 
The true story of Fred and Winnie Allen, the authors (one of whom is a grandson) pen a book that shines a light on a hardscrabble life that overcame enormous odds. Fred Allen is a musical prodigy born into a family who definitely don't see that as a blessing. It's only through the encouragement of others, that young Fred freely expresses that passion for music. Set during the Great Depression, life is hard for everyone and rising above such a harsh environment would seem impossible.
This is simply a beautiful book that celebrates the power of embracing creative endeavors and it's one that lingers in your mind after reading the last word.
I received an Advance Review Copy of this book. All opinions are my own. @Tallpoppybloggers @juliecantrell @tallpoppywriters
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Wonderful, uplifting and inspiring! 
Fred Allen - a musical genius who overcame such adversity to enjoy great success in NYC but then discovered the true meaning of success and found his calling of teaching and mentoring thousands of students in Thomasville, Georgia.
This book will make you want to be a better person. 
Beautiful! I loved it.
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Book Review

Crescendo: The True Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town by Authors Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell

Where do I begin...

This story, a true story, had me completely and utterly captivated.

It all began in rural, small-town Georgia, surrounded by the the infamous Cotton Mills during The Great Depression. A child born into poverty, neglect and abuse. As the young musical prodigy, Fred Allen, faces dire circumstance and despicable acts hovering around every corner at the hands of his parents and a slew of un-desireables, and while craving normalcy and the mere survival from the monsters that lurk, Fred is given the saving grace he desperately needs at the hands of some who will stop at nothing to lift him, protect him and become instrumental in his growth as the boy and musical genius he is and deserves to be...

As Fred forges through tragedy to triumph into his adult years, and throws himself into all avenues accessible within the Musical Arts sector- a deep-seeded haunt surfaces and threatens to destroy all he's gained as it throws him into a tailspin. Full of self-sabotage and darkness that threatens his very existence, his "truest of friends" and his one true love and wife, Winnie, with her never-ending love and hope for her husband as well as her sheer determination not to let him fall, pull him back into the life he now knows he's deserving of and meant to live, along with unforeseen successes he never could have imagined or dreamt possible.

Crescendo is a beautiful, heartbreaking, yet joyful and fascinating look into a world of promise, chances and change, appreciation and devotion- and by putting one's faith and courage above all, positive influence and its ripple effects can be extraordinary.

I thank authors Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell for allowing me the pleasure of this meaningful and purposeful journey through the eyes of Fred and Winnie Allen- an experience I won't soon forget. I would also like to thank The Allen Family for giving of themselves such a personal to inspire.

5+ Stars

#Crescendo: A True Story
#Allen Cheney

Wild Sage Book Blog (FB)
Novels N Latte Book Club
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Primarily a biography of Fred Allen, this book also illustrates the impact one caring person cam have on the life of another.

Born during the Great Depression in a milltown near LaGrange, Georgia, Fred Allen demonstrated his gift for music at a very young age, but his superstitious parents discouraged his interest. He was raised in an atmosphere that ranged from neglect to abuse, but thanks to the encouragement and support of a few teachers and community members, flourished in high school and was able to attend LaGrange College. There he met the lovely and musically talented Winnie who eventually became his wife. Together the two moved to New York where they achieved material success and Fred came close to achieving what he thought were his professional aspirations...until he realized his wife and daughter were more important than his career.

The family settled in Thomasville, Georgia, where they starred a singing and performance group for high school students. Fred soon realized that was his true calling, not the lights of Broadway.

Co-written by the Allens’ grandson, this biography uses journals, letters, and interviews to flesh out the story of Fred Allen, and equally, Winnie Allen. Fred Allen’s early life is particularly haunting, and informed the trajectory of his life and career. An enjoyable, quick read about a memorable family and their impact on a community.
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I don't read a lot of non-fiction but when I saw this book, I had to read it. And I am really glad that I did. In this day and age with heroes being sports figures or actors, this is the story of a real hero. A man who had a gift that he shared with his students and subsequently made them not only better students but more importantly better citizens of the world.

This is the story of a life well lived. Of a man who had nothing but ended up with love and respect from so many people. Fred Allen has helped the life of many children who may have been lost without him. He is a real hero for this modern age.

This biography was lovingly written by his grandson Allen Cheney in collaboration with Julie Cantrell. If you want a book that makes you feel uplifted, this is the book for you.
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Fred Allen was born to an impoverished family in Georgia. He showed amazing abilities by the age of 3. Through a series of wonderful events and kind people, Fred was able to escape his rough beginning, get several degrees and show the world his amazing talent.

I will be honest, I have never hear of Fred Allen. This book opened my eyes to his world. What a fascinating person this man was. His talent and his ability to share his knowledge truly makes him incredible in my eyes.

I did feel that Fred’s bad behavior was glossed over. It was hinted at but never really expounded on. He was human and his mistakes should have been put out there as well. This did not take away from the story by any means. I just felt a little manipulated during this part of his life.

I just love talent and this book is all over it! Not only is Fred one of the most talented men ever, but the writing and researching of this book is over the top! This book is nonfiction but it reads like a novel. Grab your copy today!
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CRESCENDO by Julie Perkins Cantrell and Allen Cheney

I started this book with no expectations. I’ve never been big into biographies and thought, ok let’s give this one a try and see. I was absolutely, completely, emotionally, physically, mentally, lovingly, blown away. From the first to the very last word, including all the letters and all the thanks at the end. This is a book everyone I know needs to read. A huge must on your TBR list.

This book was an emotional rollercoaster that takes you on a ride you possibly won’t ever forget. The story of Fred and Winnie. Fred who came from a horrific and dirt poor place filled with hurt and shame, to rise up and do great things. Winnie, the love of his life from a well to do family filled with love and laughter. Together they are unstoppable, wonderful, powerful, but also just down to earth people who love greatly, gently, emotionally and fully.

Fred had many problems but with Winnie by his side he was able to achieve things he never thought possible. Through some nightmares that he had put away, pushed down so deeply he had all but forgotten them, to when he pushed Winnie and Allison away. Coming back together stronger than ever and with so much love you will believe with all your heart that anything can be achieved in life if you try hard enough and have someone, maybe lots of someone’s, helping hold you up along the way. Through odds there were definitely not on his side Fred did the things he truly wanted to do in his life. Through fame and then humbleness he accomplished things he never thought he could. 

This book touches on things that will make you hold your breathe, cringe in places and cry those big ugly tears that cleanse your soul. It will take you on a journey that will lift your spirit and make you believe in life again in a whole new light. It’s absolutely the most beautiful book I have ever read in my whole life and I have read lots and lots. This one touched me in ways no other book ever has. Because it really happened it is even more special. It’s not exactly written like most biographies that I have tried to read. It’s a story with ups and downs. Written by Fred Allen’s grandson and that makes it even that much more special.

I honestly have no words that will truly express how much this book, this beautiful story, touched my soul, my heart, my mind and my most secret feelings about life. It’s just a great book and told in ways that you won’t want to put it down. 

I have to thank #NetGalley, #Thomas Nelson for this wonderful copy. This review is my own feelings and thoughts. Straight from my heart.

A huge, big, wonderful 5 stars and worth so many more. I most highly recommend this book to you all.
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This is a beautiful story.  I love that Adam wrote this story about his grandparents.  It makes it even more special.  I love Julie Cantrell and between the two of them, they have written a book that hopefully already has movie rights attached to it!!
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This book left me filled with emotion. It's the story of the life of a musical prodigy, Fred Allen, and his wife, Winnie. Fred's life is music. He could play piano by ear from the age of three. He came from a difficult upbringing and I could feel his pain. Life is about choices and Fred loved music. We all can listen to music and have it transport us to a memory, a feeling. Fred brought this out in the children he taught. I felt such strong emotions while reading this book. From sadness to happiness, fear to love. This is so much more than a love story. It is a story of finding your way in the world. It is a story of a life lived fully. This book is written by Fred's grandson, Allen Cheney and author, Julie Cantrell, and it is beautiful. It made my heart swell. His musical genius aside, Fred was a wonderful, warm, endearing man. Wonderful dialogue makes you a part of the story. Absolutely exquisite book. I loved every page. I loved learning about Fred's life. You must read this book. It is profound what one little life can do.
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This was a book that I debated and debated and debated about. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read it since it’s a non-fiction book. But then I also kept seeing so many great reviews about it that I felt like I was missing out on something wonderful.

I kept putting it off and ultimately decided to wait and see how my July reading shaped up and promised myself that if I had some time, I would try and squeeze this one in.

My mom is a pianist and its always such treat to hear her play so I felt like in a way, I owed it to her to read this book even if it is non-fiction—a genre that I rarely read. Not to mention the title of the book is so pitch perfect as is the cover. The fact that I kept thinking about it and wondering if I should read it, told me everything that I needed to know. I needed to find a way to fit this one in.


More than eighty years ago, a musical prodigy with a brilliant mind was born into a poor, uneducated, and abusive family in rural South Georgia. At three years of age, Fred Allen could play Mozart sonatas on the piano without missing a note. But in spite of his obvious talent, Fred’s parents discouraged him from expressing his creativity and intelligence, even going so far as locking him away from the old piano in their home. Forced to fend for himself through his adolescent years, Fred knew that if he was ever to make something of himself, he would need to find a way to rise above his broken background. With incredible effort, and a few miracles along the way, Fred managed to do just that, eventually earning acceptance into The Julliard School in New York City. While simultaneously attending Juilliard, Union Theological Seminary, and Columbia University, he also began directing a local church choir, where he caught the attention of the music industry.

During the musical revolution of the 1960s, Fred earned numerous Grammy nominations and built a growing reputation within the industry. But just as his new career was beginning to take off, Fred was faced with an impossible decision. His wife announced that she no longer wanted to raise their daughter in New York City and was heading home to the South. Fred had come so far from the pain and brokenness of his past, he couldn’t imagine giving up everything just to return to his childhood home.

Trying not to think about what could have been, Fred took a job as a high school music teacher in his hometown of Thomasville, Georgia, a community of only 30,000 people. Far from the executive suites of RCA and the allure of Broadway, Fred never could have imagined that his new role would not only transform his life but also change an entire community forever (summary from Goodreads).


So so so many five star reviews for this book are popping up all over the place and I can absolutely see why! While so many non-fiction books are filled with dates and facts, this book has that but it also has a heart and a soul that captures readers from the very beginning.

I instantly knew I was reading something special and knowing that Fred and Winnie’s story is a true story made it even more heart warming and special. All too often it’s easy to forget a great story that is fictional for the simple reason that it is fiction. I know that I often read a stunning story and wish that it has been true and feel a pain when I remember that it isn’t. Well this book and its story are true and it makes me so happy to know that.

This is a lovely uplifting story that you will continue to come back to and find something to love. I know that in the days that followed as I finished this book, I was constantly thinking back to Fred and all the love that I found in the pages. Having worked in a high school for years, I know how important the arts are so many students and this book highlighted that for me.

While this book isn’t a fast paced fictionalized account of Fred and Winnie’s story that I am normally used to when it comes to reading, there is still so much heart and soul in this book. I agree with every single 5 star review. This book gets all the stars from me that’s for sure!

Book Info and Rating

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: July 16th 2019 by Thomas Nelson
Free review copy provided by publisher, Thomas Nelson, in partnership with Tall Poppy Writers/bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: non fiction
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While I felt the sadness and despair of Fred Allen as a child I never got to know the character in any depth. The main theme I took from this novel is that it takes a village sometime to help one child.
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I am a music fan so that is the first reason I picked up this book.   The second reason?  Look at this cover with the beautiful background and the wonderful grand piano (which I dream of owning one day).  Seeing the cover had me knowing that I had to read this book.    Once I read the first chapter I knew that I was hooked on an amazing, uplifting, and true story that would leave me thinking about the story of Fred and Winnie Allen long after I would finish the book.   

Fred is born to a family of lower-class citizens, they work hard, drink hard, and see no way out of the life they are living.   Luckily for Fred, there were some people in his life that showed him another way to live.   They lifted him up when he fell, showed him the right path when he was tempted to go a different way, and they showed him the support when he was faltering in his career choices.     There were amazing teachers that gave him the courage to continue making his music.   The friends that did not judge him for his family and welcomed him into their circles without judgment.     Most importantly there was Winnie, his wife.   She loved him, she supported him, she took risks with him, and she let him spread his wings so that he could live the life he dreamed of.  

I was not familiar with Fred Allens’ story before I picked up this book but I now know his story and am thrilled that I do.   I’ve talked about it to my friends and I’ve already recommended this book to others.
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At three years of age, Fred Allen could play Mozart sonatas on the piano without missing a note. But in spite of his obvious talent, Fred’s parents discouraged him from expressing his creativity and intelligence, even going so far as locking him away from the old piano in their home. 
Inspirational story that while true is written with the feel of a fiction novel, in that it will capture you. This is very much a story about how one person that has every thing going against them, rises from that to find success. You will want to read this book to find out exactly how Fred accomplishes that and the effect he had on so many others.
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Wow, just Wow. This was an amazing story from beginning to end, even more so because it is a true story. The story took me by surprise and captivated me until the end. I went into this without knowing much about Fred Allen and ended it with such a huge respect for him and his accomplishments.  This book is a testament to how one person can make a difference in someone’s life.  
Uplifting, inspirational, and beautifully written, this is a biography that should not b missed. It I so well-done, you will forget that this is non-fiction. Crescendo is absolutely one that shouldn’t be missed. 
  #tallpoppywriters #bloomreads #JulieCantrell #AllenCheney #ThomasNelson #Crescendo
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A wonderful, easy read. A “hard to put it down” kind of book. The life story of an amazing man of music and his wife and the impact they have had on the youth and community of a small South Georgia town This story reminds us all of  the truth that we can overcome even the worst traumas life can throw at us and continue to choose to love others and use our gifts to bless and inspire others.
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This biography was well researched and contained a lot of information that I hadn’t previously read in other books.  The author’s attention to detail is evident in the writing.  Highly recommend!
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Crescendo starts as a heartbreaking, sad story about a very talented, abused little boy which turns into an upbeat and inspiring tale of a brilliantly successful and admired man. This book is based on real people and is a real accounting of their lives but it reads like a wonderfully woven work of fiction. 

Fred Allen and his wife, Winnie are amazing people who have lived a beautiful life together, making a difference in so many people's lives. It wasn't always an easy life, but their love for each other and their shared love of music helped get them through the hard times. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Crescendo and learning as much as I did about these two very special people. This is a story that let me delve deeper into the music world and left me with an appreciation for the good that people can do if they follow their passion..
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An unusual story of a man whose piano skills rival those of masters, "Cresendo" reads like a fiction story with impossible odds. The amazing thing about "Cresendo" is that it is a non fiction title based on Fred Allen's real experiences. 

The authors narrate a book that is hard to put down, inspiring and heartbreaking, all at the same time. Can one person's musical talents change the world? How can we use our gifts to bring beauty where there is none? Will the dreams we have be feasible in this difficult world?

Cantrell and Cheney's (Fred and Winnie's grandson) writing talents take the reader back in time to a community who doesn't know how to deal with talent such as Fred's. We then follow his journey to Juliard, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University, the Grammy stage, the offices of record companies like RCA and then back again to Thomasville, GA, with his wife, Winnie, and their daughter in tow. Can Fred return to the south, where memories continue to remind him of his past? How can he contribute to the community with the talents he has?

There are no shortages of amazing events in Fred's life, and "Cresendo" is a wild ride, filled with the ups and downs of a life worth reading about. I was excited to read this book early, thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher. I chose to leave a review because this book should be an encouragement to anyone who has ever wondered if their life makes a difference in this world. Amazing book!
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