Born in New York City and raised in the Central New Jersey towns of Plainfield, Piscataway and Dunellen, Josiah Howard was an energetic child of the "three network" seventies: fascinated with the decade's most popular singers, actors, TV shows and movies.
A graduate of New York University, JosiahHoward’s professional writing and research career began at The Village Voice where he spent a year assisting esteemed film and media critic Andrew ("Politics and Cinema") Sarris. Following his tenure at TheVoice Howard moved to Parade, America’s most widely-read news-magazine. At Parade he spent two years as Photo Researcher providing the imagery that accompanied articles, columns and cover stories that ran the gamut of celebrities, politicians, sports figures and religious leaders.
At the same time that Mr. Howard was at Parade, he was also a regular contributor to the music magazines Record Mirror (Britain) and Top Spot (America); publications that gave him direct access to the era's most popular recording artists.
Mr. Howard's first book, Donna Summer: Her Life and Music, a comprehensive work that included interviews with producers, songwriters and intimates, offered readers an unfiltered behind-the-scenes look at the late singer/songwriter and five time Grammy Award winner Donna Summer.
DiscoMusic.com called the book "... a don't miss page turner that contains information that even die-hard Donna fans will find fascinating." While CD Review exclaimed "Who knew Donna's story was so varied and special... Howard has uncovered a wealth of information on America's undisputed 'Queen of Disco'." In 2013, Howard was featured extensively in the critically-acclaimed European documentary film "Donna Summer: Hot Stuff."
Mr. Howard's second book, Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide (now in a fourth printing) provided readers with a broad and sweeping overview of America's one and only African-American motion picture boom. A compendium of of more than 250 film reviews as well as Q & A interviews with actors, directors and producers, Blaxploitation Cinema is "required reading" at several university and film schools. Film Review cited the book as "... a mine of superbly collated information... a treasure trove on an under-examined film genre," while American Library Journal observed "... truth in advertising; an essential addition to your film book library." Today, Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide remains the primary source on the genre; cited in more than 100 books, magazines, newspapers, websites and scholarly works.
An Expert on American Cinema
Following the publication of Blaxpoitation Cinema, Mr. Howard became a coveted guest speaker on the genre; presenting his lectures, PowerPoints and dissertations everywhere from the Shomburg Center for African American Studies in New York City to California's UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
In 2011 The Brazilian Minister of Culture commissioned Mr. Howard to write a 10,000-word program, and then travel to the country to host two weeks of film screenings; first in Rio de Janeiro and then in Sao Paulo. The month-long Tela-Negra Film Festivalwas attended by more than 90,000 people, heavily covered in the Brazilian press, and provided Mr. Howard with a Portuguese speaking platform.
Mr. Howard's third book, Cher: Strong Enough, the culmination of several years of research and incorporating more than 200 interviews, shed new light on the complex life and career of the Oscar and Grammy-winning singer/actress/icon.
Howard's first association with Cher came in 2008 when he was commissioned to write the program for her two-year residency at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas (Howard's summation of her life and accomplishments remains in use on her personal Facebook page). Syndicated columnist Liz Smith (Variety, The New York Daily News) called Cher: Strong Enough "... exhaustively researched and highly entertaining... a labor of love ... " while OK!Magazine selected it as "Book of the Month" and deemed it "... an in-depth biography with heart... a definite must-read."
On December 21, 2013, after The New York Post pulled several passages from Cher: Strong Enough and headlined their Sunday (Christmas Week) "Page Six" column with the bombshell: "Cher Hired Aid To Convince Fans She Was A Female: Book," Josiah Howard and Cher: Strong Enough entered the international news cycle. The "Page Six" article re-appeared in more than twenty countries--including England (Daily Mail: "Is Cher a Man?!"), Russia, Australia, Germany, Poland, France, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico. A critically praised best-seller, after a second printing in America and Britain--which included the release of the book on Kindle, Cher: Strong Enough was published in Portuguese for the South American market.
In 2014 Josiah Howard joined the cast of TV One's award-winning, ten-years-running, documentary series Unsung. His on-air commentary, critiques and observations were showcased in five episodes over two seasons. "... Josiah Howard is one of the many informed new faces currently brightening TV One's new season," observed The Amsterdam News.
The author's many other TV appearances include The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, Behind The Music, Autopsy, Breaking the Band and Access Hollywood. A veteran of more thantwo hundredradio broadcasts--including NPR (National Public Radio), American Urban Radio Networks and BBC World News--Josiah Howard remains a valued behind-the-scenes consultant on African American representation in the entertainment industry.
Josiah Howard Today
For the past six years Josiah Howard has been a senior editor/contributor at The Deuce and Furious Cinema. His syndicated capsule film reviews can be seen on more than forty websites including IMDB (International Movie Database), Wow.com, SolarMovie, Teramovie.net, B-Movienation, 123Movies and Bigstar.tv.
In 2018 Howard was commissioned by the American Library of Congress to write a monograph whose focus was singer/musician Isaac Hayes' groundbreaking "Theme From Shaft." Hayes' seminal work was deemed "culturally, aesthetically and historically significant" and added to the National Recording Registry. In 2019 and 2020 Howard continued to work with the American Library of Congress writing essays on the hit Broadway musical The Wiz, Curtis Mayfield's Super Fly soundtrack album, and the Village People's million-selling song "Y.M.C.A." (All three were added to the National Recording Registry.)
"Everyone can work hard, so it's not about working hard: it's about continuing to work hard."
Josiah Howard continues to lecture on cinema--most recently at the 2020 Black Then: Blaxploitation Cinema Turns Fifty! film festival (a series he curated) at Story Screen Beacon Theater, Beacon, NY. Other engagements include the Say It Loud: Cinema in the Age of Black Power, 1966 -1988 film series at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), the University of Iowa, the 100th anniversary celebration of the State of Ohio's branch library system, and the Da Bounce Urban Film Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His 40th anniversary Fight For Your Life interviews with director Robert A. Endelson and actor William Sanderson were published in America and Britain and added to the Quentin Tarantino Archives.
Josiah Howard's post COVID-19 pandemic activities include a return appearance on ITV's Autopsy, an extended interview with the RealBlack Channel, writing the press package for the motion picture Sweet, Sweet Sally Mae, a 50th anniversary monograph on Marvin Gaye's What's Going On album for the American Library of Congress, and re-writing and updating the 2021 editions of Cher: Strong Enough and Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide.
Josiah Howard lives in New York City. His writing credits include articles for the American Library of Congress, The New York Times, Reader's Digest, and Motion Picture.
Josiah Howard at a book signing in Sao Paulo, Brazil