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Other titles in the Music of the African Diaspora series:
Race Musicby Guthrie P., Jr. Ramsey
Synopses & Reviews
This powerful book covers the vast and various terrain of African American music, from bebop to hip-hop. Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., begins with an absorbing account of his own musical experiences with family and friends on the South Side of Chicago, evoking Sunday-morning worship services, family gatherings with food and dancing, and jam sessions at local nightclubs. This lays the foundation for a brilliant discussion of how musical meaning emerges in the private and communal realms of lived experience and how African American music has shaped and reflected identities in the black community. Deeply informed by Ramsey's experience as an accomplished musician, a sophisticated cultural theorist, and an enthusiast brought up in the community he discusses, Race Music explores the global influence and popularity of African American music, its social relevance, and key questions regarding its interpretation and criticism.
Beginning with jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel, this book demonstrates that while each genre of music is distinct—possessing its own conventions, performance practices, and formal qualities—each is also grounded in similar techniques and conceptual frameworks identified with African American musical traditions. Ramsey provides vivid glimpses of the careers of Dinah Washington, Louis Jordan, Dizzy Gillespie, Cootie Williams, and Mahalia Jackson, among others, to show how the social changes of the 1940s elicited an Afro-modernism that inspired much of the music and culture that followed.
Race Music illustrates how, by transcending the boundaries between genres, black communities bridged generational divides and passed down knowledge of musical forms and styles. It also considers how the discourse of soul music contributed to the vibrant social climate of the Black Power Era. Multilayered and masterfully written, Race Music provides a dynamic framework for rethinking the many facets of African American music and the ethnocentric energy that infused its creation.
"This work easily makes Guthrie one of the top musicologists of his generation who writes on black music. The scope, depth, and breadth are highly impressive. His criticisms of other scholars are fair. And his treatments of black musical artists in time, in space, and in place are quite illuminating. I know no one else who has his mastery of knowledge over such a broad range of black musical works of different genres and periods."—Cornel West, Princeton University
"Witty, powerful, smart, opinionated, beautifully written, groundbreaking, and bold. Scholars will read Race Music and debate it for years to come."—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
"Race Music is slammin'! Ramsey brilliantly interweaves oral history with his own scholarly readings of jazz, gospel, popular music, and film soundtracks with pathbreaking results. Race Music revolutionizes the way we receive and critique African American popular culture and provides a new context for our understanding of black music and cultural memory. A must read---intelligent, engaging and powerful."—Rae Linda Brown, author of The Heart of a Woman: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price, 1887-1953
"One of the most engaging, thought provoking and original treatments of black music that I have read. Ramsey seamlessly combines ethnographic research, musicological theory, historical investigation, and personal narrative in a work that is at once rigorous and poetic. Spanning blues, gospel, jazz, rhythm and blues, soul and hip-hop, Race Music offers us the scholarly monograph as jam session-a first-rate intellectual essay whose rhythms, tones, and melodious voice are as captivating as the music Ramsey brilliantly explains and masterfully performs."—Michael Eric Dyson, author of Open Mike and Holler If You Hear Me
About the Author
Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Daddys Second Line: Toward a Cultural Poetics of Race Music
2. Disciplining Black Music: On History, Memory, and Contemporary Theories
3. "Its Just the Blues": Race, Entertainment, and the Blues Muse
4. "It Just Stays with Me All of the Time": Collective Memory, Community Theater, and the Ethnographic Truth
5. "We Called Ourselves Modern": Race Music and the Politics and Practice of Afro-Modernism at Midcentury
6. "Goin to Chicago": Memories, Histories, and a Little Bit of Soul
7. Scoring a Black Nation: Music, Film, and Identity in the Age of Hip-Hop
8. "Santa Claus Aint Got Nothing on This!": Hip-Hop Hybridity and the Black Church Muse
Epilogue: "Do You Want It on Your Black-Eyed Peas?"
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