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Julian Nelson
Julian Nelson

African American Music Essays

The Civic Club dinner significantly accelerated the literary phase of the Harlem Renaissance. Frederick Allen, editor of Harper's, approached Countee Cullen, securing his poems for his magazine as soon as the poet finished reading them. As the dinner ended Paul Kellogg, editor of Survey Graphic, hung around talking to Cullen, Fauset, and several other young writers, then offered Charles S. Johnson a unique opportunity: an entire issue of Survey Graphic devoted to the Harlem literary movement. Under the editorship of Alain Locke the "Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro" number of Survey Graphic hit the newsstands March 1, 1925.2 It was an overnight sensation. Later that year Locke published a book-length version of the "Harlem" edition, expanded and re-titled The New Negro: An Interpretation.3 In the anthology Locke laid down his vision of the aesthetic and the parameters for the emerging Harlem Renaissance; he also included a collection of poetry, fiction, graphic arts, and critical essays on art, literature, and music.

african american music essays

Rosita Sands, EdD, is the Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College, Chicago. Her research and teaching specializations are in the areas of ethnomusicology, black music research and pedagogy, and music education. Prior to joining the Columbia College faculty, she served as Associate Director and Director of Columbia College's Center for Black Music Research. She is published in the areas of African American-Caribbean carnival traditions, multicultural music education, and the pedagogy of black music. Dr. Sands has contributed essays and chapters to African American Music (Burnim/Maultsby eds.), Multicultural Perspectives in Music, Kaleidoscope of Cultures: A Celebration of Multicultural Research and Practice, Critical Issues in Music Education, and The Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History. She is also published in the Journal of Music Teacher Education, The Black Perspective in Music, Black Music Research Journal, and Action, Criticism, and Theory in Music Education.

The book features essays on a variety of subjects regarding the music of African Americans: vocal concert music, musical theater, Duke Ellington, and the relationship of the music to literature and art. An extensive music bibliography lists works composed during the period.

Oxford Bibliographies Online: African American Music * this link takes you to a pre-made search in this resource that pulls about 50 different bibliographies related to African American music. These bibliographic essays are excellent entry points into a new concept because they provide basic factual information, as well as point you to many other excellent resources on the topic.

Issues in African American Music: Power, Gender, Race, Representation is a collection of twenty-one essays by leading scholars, surveying vital themes in the history of African American music. Bringing together the viewpoints of ethnomusicologists, historians, and performers, these essays cover topics including the music industry, women and gender, and music as resistance, and explore the stories of music creators and their communities.

Revised and expanded to reflect the latest scholarship, with six all-new essays, this book both complements the previously published volume African American Music: An Introduction and stands on its own. Each chapter features a discography of recommended listening for further study. From the antebellum period to the present, and from classical music to hip hop, this wide-ranging volume provides a nuanced introduction for students and anyone seeking to understand the history, social context, and cultural impact of African American music.

Early on the essay rejects the "conventional standards" of art thatobscure black people's contributions. Once the blinders imposed by thosestandards are removed, art is visible everywhere one looks: in theimprovised performances of daily life, in the language ("the AmericanNegro has done wonders to the English language"), in music, dance, andstorytelling.[15] The folktales create the effect of polyphony; typicallyin Hurston's essays, many voices speak. In addition, "Characteristics"offers multiple examples and several lists, which allow spaces for thereader to enter the text, to affirm his or her independent knowledge ofthe metaphors, or to provide his or her own examples, of say, doubledescriptives or verbal nouns. Many critics, including Henry Louis GatesJr., Karla Holloway, and Lynda Hill have remarked on the intellectualboldness and the insightful brilliance of this essay. In my judgmentHurston's ability to perceive beauty and complexity in the lives ofordinary black folk remains unrivaled. But few critics have acknowledgedthat the essay's form is as original as its argument. After readers haveadded their own evidence to Hurston's more modest claims, they arebetter inclined to accept her most challenging ones, for example, thatthe Negro dancer compared to the white is the better artist, because"his dancing is realistic suggestion, and that is about all a greatartist can do."[16] Some readers are even inclined to accept the heresythat "the beauty of the Old Testament does exceed that of a Negroprayer."[17]

Emily Lordi is a writer, professor, and cultural critic whose focus is African American literature and Black popular music. She is professor of English at Vanderbilt University and the author of three books: Black Resonance (2013), Donny Hathaway Live (2016), and The Meaning of Soul (2020). In addition to scholarly articles on topics ranging from literary modernism to Beyoncé, she writes essays for such venues as New and The Atlantic, and appears in documentaries such as the BBC series Soul America and the Netflix series This is Pop. She is a writer at large for T: The New York Times Style Magazine, where her recent work includes profiles of FKA twigs and Dolly Parton, as well as essays on Black recovery from addiction and African American artists who have left the U.S.


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