Stivers grad chronicles Spice Girls’ pop fame

Literary debut the first of a dozen books

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Dayton native and aspiring music archivist Quentin Harrison, a 2003 Stivers School for the Arts graduate, is excited to tell you what he wants, what he really, really wants. As pop music perspectives continue to be fodder for debate, he hopes his literary debut “Record Redux: Spice Girls” sparks an important conversation of what it is and what it takes to be successful, productive and enduring music icons.

Marking 20 years since the rise of the British girl group, which leapt to the top of the charts with catchy friendship anthem “Wannabe,” “Record Redux: Spice Girls” shines an informative spotlight on Victoria Beckham (“Posh Spice”), Melanie Brown (Mel B, “Scary Spice”), Emma Bunton (“Baby Spice”), Melanie Chisholm (Mel C, “Sporty Spice”), and Geri Halliwell (“Ginger Spice”). The book offers a very comprehensive yet approachable and engaging exploration of the quintet’s vast discography and extensive career timeline. The group, which has sold over 80 million records worldwide, has not performed together on a major scale since the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, but recently hinted at reuniting in celebration of their anniversary.

Harrison, currently residing in Atlanta, gives colorful, insightful and witty reviews of the familiar and lesser-known songs within their repertoire including solo recordings. He particularly describes his work as a “reintroduction to the casual fan” and “an affirmation of the Spice Girls’ musical prowess.” Renowned British music journalist David Sinclair, author of “Wannabe: How the Spice Girls Reinvented Pop Fame,” notably supplies the foreword praising the project.

“The Spice Girls were not the first female act to espouse a feminist, empowerment message, but they stepped into the zeitgeist in a moment of time to represent a message which young girls and women could believe in,” said Harrison, 31. “As a group, they were in control of what they did and continued to espouse the same message when they separated individually to refine and blaze their own trail. In particular, Victoria Beckham followed her own path and ultimately shifted into the completely different medium of fashion. Now she’s a legitimate force in the fashion industry not just as a celebrity but as a brand. The group as a whole has had victories and some mistakes along the way, but they did it their way and there’s something to be said about that from a musical standpoint. The Spice Girls represent individuality, which is something missing in today’s female pop groups.”

This past spring, Harrison, who began his professional writing career a decade ago as a music columnist for Dayton City Paper, visited London where he held the “Record Redux: Spice Girls Walkabout” which allowed him to meet fans and tour various historical and contemporary “Spice sites.” In the book’s introduction, he warmly recalls purchasing the “Spiceworld” CD on his 13th birthday. It was the first CD he ever purchased and the material immediately stirred his imagination. He credits the “reflection, rebellion and joy” of the music as a specific cornerstone to understanding himself and the recording industry.

“‘Spiceworld’ was a combination of many things for me,” he said. “Musically, it laid the groundwork to recognizing different esthetics, styles and moods, the kinds of things I expect when I hear any record to this day. Personally, I admired the fact that there were simply no other groups like the Spice Girls. They weren’t necessarily uncool but they weren’t hip either. They occupied their own space and never apologized. Either you enjoyed them or you didn’t. And being a person of color I was aware of the stigma that I wasn’t really supposed to listen to their kind of pop music, but it didn’t bother me at all. The fearlessness, brashness and thoughtfulness of their music allowed me to imagine what it would be like to have that same kind of confidence in myself, to be more extroverted.”

Harrison’s book is the first in his proposed 12-book series documenting the discographies of women musicians. In fact, the next “Record Redux” release, slated to be available next year, spotlights singer/songwriter Carly Simon. Future editions will profile Sheena Easton, Janet Jackson, Donna Summer, Teena Marie, and Gloria Estefan among others. He hopes the series provides an education drawing attention to women recording artists whose legacies lack definitive discussion while examining the content and caliber of recorded output.

“I feel very proud of this book,” he said. “I feel I’ve created something that will hold up over time. I want this book to be seen as a great reference guide. If someone is writing a paper I want them to use my work as a resource. The Spice Girls seem to have a negative narrative, particularly from those viewing them as being pop fluff, but if I can reset the narrative and allow people to think in a different way I’ve succeeded. “

“Record Redux: Spice Girls” was released July 8 though Amazon.com in soft-cover format ($27.50). A digital download for any tablet device is offered through the Selz storefront ($13.50; Quentinharrison.selz.com). The book was manufactured by CreateSpace via Harrison’s Joy of Sound Publications imprint. For more information, visit

or follow Harrison on twitter at @The QHBlend.