For every bustling jazz joint that opened in Korean War–era Harlem, a new church seemed to spring up. Tambourines to Glory introduces you to an unlikely team behind a church whose rock was the curb at 126th and Lenox. Essie Belle Johnson and Laura Reed live in adjoining tenement flats, adrift on public relief. Essie wants to somehow earn enough money to reunite with her daughter and provide her with a nice home; Laura loves young men, mink coats, and fine Scotch. On a day of inspiration, the friends decide to use a thrift-store tambourine and a layaway Bible to start a church.

Writer: Langston Hughes


Willa Bost

Karen Davis

Alexandra Foucard

Keith A. Hale

Ebony Jo-Ann


Jordan Minter

Eric Moore

Margo Moorer

Kevyn Morrow

Eugene H Russell IV

Laparee Young