Author / Record Producer
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  Anthony Heilbut, author of The Fan Who Knew Too Much,
was born in New York on November, 22 1940, the son of
German-Jewish refugees Otto N. Heilbut (1891–1970) and
Bertha L. Heilbut (1911–2003). He graduated from Queens
College in 1961, and received his Ph.D. in English Literature
from Harvard University five years later. His thesis was on the
prose of D. H. Lawrence. He has taught at New York University
and Hunter College. Since 1976 he has been a full-time writer
and record producer.
 
His first book, The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times, appeared in 1971, and is still in print. Other books include Exiled in Paradise: German Refugee Artists and Intellectuals in America from the 1930s to the Present (1983, 1997); Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature (1996, 1997); and The Fan Who Knew Too Much: Aretha Franklin, The Rise of the Soap Opera, Children of the Gospel Church, and Other Meditations (2012).
 
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His work has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, The Believer, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Truthdig, and Dimensions, etc., as well as in literary anthologies like The New Columbia Encyclopedia (1975), Folk Music and Modern Sound (1982), America and the Germans (1983), European Writers: The Twentieth Century (1989), Black Women in America (1993), and The Encyclopedia of New York City (1995). He has lectured at The Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University, The Villa Aurora, and The Leo Baeck Society.
 
   

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Heilbut is equally engaged in his work as a record producer specializing in black gospel music, a vocation that realizes a fandom dating from his first trips to the Apollo Theater at the age of 14. He has produced over fifty albums for various labels (Sony, Atlantic, Nashboro, John Hammond Records, Savoy, etc.), as well as a series of very successful collections of gospel, country, opera, and jazz, marketed on television. Since 1987 he has run a one-man label Spirit Feel Records (he describes himself as the president, A&R man, literary editor, and janitor) that has been distributed since its inception by Shanachie Records.
 
His most critically acclaimed records were made with Marion Williams, and helped lead to her winning the MacArthur Fellowship and Kennedy Center Honors in 1993. In 2003, the first studio album he produced, Precious Lord: The Gospel Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey (1973), became one of the first fifty discs of recorded sound to be included in the Library of Congress’ National Registry. Albums he has produced have won the Grammy Award (Mahalia Jackson’s How I Got Over ) and the Grand Prix du Disque (Marion Williams’ Prayer Changes Things ). At least ten Spirit Feel albums have received five-star reviews from Rolling Stone.