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Hoodoo (Ronald L. Smith)

Audiofile Magazine Earphones Award,  February 2017

Narrator Ron Butler conveys the naïve playfulness of 12-year-old Hoodoo, who was born into a magical family--seemingly, without any magic himself. Butler amplifies the humor of Hoodoo's oft-repeated refrain--"if you didn't know"--with just the right throw-away quality. Butler is also frighteningly believable as the deep-voiced Stranger, a demon who must be vanquished by Hoodoo in order to save his family and community. Elements of life in a small, African-American enclave in 1930s Alabama are brought forth through the delicious text and the immersive narration, with Jim Crow problems integrally woven into the story. Spooky and comical by turns, Ronald L. Smith's atmospheric winner of a 2016 Coretta Scott King Award is terrific family listening.

 

 
 
 

Til The Well Runs Dry (L. Francis-Sharma)

Audie Finalist (2016).  Audiofile Magazine Earphones Award, April 2015

An astonishingly unique historical novel, which begins in Trinidad in the 1940s, this is an example of the best that an audiobook can offer. The two narrators, Ron Butler and Bahni Turpin, are superb choices who move the listener smoothly between the two main characters. Farook and Marcia Garcia are star-crossed lovers who don’t have fate on their side. Turpin evokes the rhythms of English as spoken in Trinidad, lyrical, and rhythmic. Through her confident narrative style, Marica Garcia comes across as a strong, beleaguered young woman. Her trials evoke empathy in the listener. Butler establishes the contorted choices that face Farook as an Indian man who is prevented by racism from marrying his true love. This sprawling tale spans Trinidad and the United States, from the 1940s-1960s.  

American Library Association Listen List 2016

Marcia and Farouk, married but rarely together, share a love that spans decades despite being buffeted by a strict social hierarchy and a need for independence. Ideally-paired narrators Turpin and Butler create an immersive listening experience capturing the characters’ unique dialects, from lilting Trinidadian rhythms to subtle East Indian tones.

 

 
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black gun silver star (Art t. burton)

Audiofile Magazine Earphones Award, February 2016

Narrator Ron Butler clearly and passionately recounts the story of U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves, a former slave whose law enforcement career negotiated the lawless areas of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories for nearly 32 years. This is not a biography; instead, Burton uses court documents and contemporary newspaper articles to place Reeves's life in the context of Western history. But the presentation is never dry. As he delivers atmospheric narrative and dialogue that often rings true, Butler's skillful pacing and emphasis ramp up the tension and occasional drama of the marshal's encounters with various criminals. A great pairing of narrator and history.

 

 
 

chasing space (leland melvin)

Audiofile Magazine, June 2017

Ron Butler's narration is both understated yet focused, which is the right tone for African-American astronaut Leland Melvin's memoir. Butler's voice takes the listener through Melvin's amazing journey of accomplishment. His successes seem staggering, but he doesn't stop to bask in his glory. In fact, it appears he doesn't stop, period. This is a life trajectory that moves from the NFL to outer space, and only Melvin can make that claim. Throughout, Butler captures Melvin's determined and hard-working tone, as well as his appreciation for those who helped give him perspective and support. Listeners who recently discovered the story of HIDDEN FIGURES will find Melvin's work another part of this larger story. CHASING SPACE is an inspiring audiobook of grit and perseverance. 

 

 
 

Forgotten (Linda hervieux)

Audiofile Magazine, April 2016

The brave soldiers of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion are remembered in this fascinating account of WWII.  Ron Butler respectfully narrates a remarkable story that most of us have never heard featuring the brave African-American soldiers whose floating screen of armed balloons distracted and deflected enemy aircraft in Europe. Butler's clear delivery is unpretentious, even elegant, as he describes the courage of these young Americans thrust onto the front lines of battle. Describing the shocking disparity between American prejudice and European attitudes of acceptance toward the black soldiers, Butler maintains a dignified objectivity. His rich voice warms in the personal stories of these young men from Virginia, New Jersey, and Ohio. 

 

 
 

Mr. Loverman (Bernadine Evaristo)

Audiofile Magazine, February 2015

Barry and Carmel Walker, Londoners by way of Antigua, have been married for more than 40 years, but the time has finally come for Barry to choose love over secrets. Told in two voices, this is a provocative contemporary story of a marriage and its unraveling. As Barry, a dapper septuagenarian, Ron Butler charms with his musical tenor. His sense of language and timing is spot on, underlining the rhythm and wordplay of Evaristo's storytelling. In contrast, Carmel's chapters are marked by regret and anger. Despite an uneven accent, Robin Miles offers a convincing, sympathetic portrayal, capturing Carmel's evolving emotions as she reclaims herself. The years fall away from their voices as Barry and Carmel move together toward independence.