Brett Boutwell, Eric Seiferth, and Gregory Reish
Emerging from a year-long tricentennial celebration of its European founding, New Orleans continues to distinguish itself as a singular American city, unique in its history and celebrated for its vibrant cultural traditions. Awakening from its birthday hangover, but no worse for the wear, the “City That Care Forgot” welcomes the Society for American Music for its 45th annual meeting. Nearly all of our events will take place in the French Quarter, or Vieux Carré—one of the oldest and most storied neighborhoods in the United States. Our primary site will be the Hotel Monteleone, an independent hotel on Royal Street that has counted the likes of Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and Truman Capote among its regulars. The Local Arrangements Committee looks forward to joining you at the Monteleone’s famous rotating Carousel Bar.
The music of New Orleans will be on proud display throughout this year’s meeting. The Society is pleased to present an honorary membership to keyboardist and vocalist Art Neville, one of the best-loved musicians in a city brimming with them. As a founding member of The Meters, Neville was a pioneer of funk in the late 1960s; later, with The Neville Brothers, he helped introduce a broader audience to musical traditions cherished in his hometown but often overlooked on the national stage, including the city’s unique strain of rhythm-and-blues and the polyrhythms of its Mardi Gras Indians. At our Saturday evening buffet, you’ll hear the zydeco accordionist Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, whose own fusion of musical traditions—Afro-Caribbean, Cajun, and African-American—likewise exemplifies the rich diversity of Louisiana’s cultural heritage. When booking your flight, be sure to arrive in time for the Wednesday evening concert at the St. Louis Cathedral by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, which will present a program titled “Direct from New Orleans,” an installment of their Musical Louisiana series. The annual Perlis Concert will also shine light on music of the notated tradition from New Orleans, with offerings by composers ranging from Louis Moreau Gottschalk, whose sesquicentennial will be celebrated in 2019, to Roger Dickerson, a resident of Algiers, the city’s 15th Ward. Last, we’re thrilled to bring you a lecture-performance by clarinetist Dr. Michael White, one of the most accomplished and esteemed ambassadors of traditional jazz, the Crescent City’s most famous cultural export.
Enthusiasts of SAM’s Friday afternoon excursions will not be disappointed. Those seeking a bit of exercise after enjoying the famously rich cuisine of Louisiana can take a two-hour, guided walking tour of the French Quarter and Tremé focused on musical heritage—a great way to learn about the city’s music while enjoying the beauty of its historic architecture. Interested in a glimpse of the cornet Louis Armstrong played at the Municipal Waif’s Home for Boys in 1913? Take our excursion to the New Orleans Jazz Museum, where a performance by local musicians will be followed by a tour of the museum’s instrument collection and exhibitions. Our organ crawl will bring you into contact with instruments of a larger sort: you’ll see and hear the newly refurbished Aeolian organ at The Historic New Orleans Collection, the calliope on the steamboat City of New Orleans, and the organ at St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States. Last, you can participate in a curator-led tour of the exhibition “New Orleans Medley: Sounds of the City” at The Historic New Orleans Collection’s Williams Research Center, which will be followed by a panel discussion among local archivists and musicians on the resources available for research on jazz in New Orleans.
Our meeting could not take place without a roster of generous hosts and sponsors. They include The Historic New Orleans Collection, which will host several conference events at its Williams Research Center, located only a block from the Hotel Monteleone; the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, whose Wein Center will serve as the site for the Perlis Concert; the New Orleans Jazz Museum, host to one of our afternoon excursions; and Louisiana State University. On behalf of these organizations and the Local Arrangements Committee, we look forward to welcoming you to New Orleans. See you in March!
Brett Boutwell and Eric Seiferth
Co-Chairs, Local Arrangements Committee
Members of the 2019 program committee are delighted with the range and depth of this year’s conference program, which we think is certainly worthy of a culturally rich meeting place like New Orleans. Attendees can enjoy an array of NOLA-focused presentations, including entire sessions on nineteenth-century New Orleans, the music of Gottschalk, disability and NOLA onscreen, and New Orleans French opera, plus roundtables on New Orleans jazz archives and sustaining local musical cultures. Individual NOLA-related papers found homes in various other sessions on hip hop, funk, jazz, parlor music, band music, and contemporary opera. Other featured sessions include a look at Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer-winning DAMN!, provocative new research on Gospel music, representations of the United States and Japan, a look at women’s music clubs, and a seminar on music and sound in horror media. This year’s program is also rich in topics on the musics of Latin America, with particular attention to Brazil, Mexico, and Central America. Conference attendees can also take in a fascinating array of poster sessions by scholars at various career stages. There is truly something for everyone on this year’s program, and its diversity represents well the vitality of the Society.
Chair, Program Committee
Editor’s note: For a sneak preview of The Historic New Orleans Collection, see Seiferth’s article in the Spring 2017 issue of this newsletter.
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NOTICE TO MEMBERSHIP: Proposal to Change By-Laws
The Board proposes the following revision to membership categories as described in the by-laws. The revisions affirm practice that has emerged over a number of years and do not introduce new procedures. This is offered as a motion to be voted on at our annual meeting in New Orleans.
Summary of amendments: The category of Associate will be renamed Spouse/Partner (defined as “those who live in the same household as individual members”). Under the category of Student, “Student Forum” replaces the designation “Student Interest Groups.” Under the category Retired, the language “persons who have retired from full-time employment or passed their 62nd year” is replaced with “persons who have retired and are on a fixed income.” Under the category Honorary, the word “mission” replaces “purpose.” The category of Affiliate will be added.
The entire Members Section appears below, with changes in bold. According to our bylaws, they may be “altered, amended, or replaced, and new bylaws may be adopted, by a two-thirds majority vote at any meeting of the Board of Trustees, subject to ratification by the members of the Society by a two-thirds majority vote cast by members present or by signed proxy during a meeting at which there is a quorum present providing that notice of such meeting indicates that an amendment or amendments of the bylaws will be acted upon at the meeting and indicates the general nature of the proposed amendment or amendments.”
ARTICLE II. Members Section
Section 1. Qualifications
The main categories of membership which shall make up the Society are Individual, Spouse/Partner, Student, Retired, Honorary, and Affiliate. The Board may establish additional membership categories as appropriate.
Individual: shall be available to any person who has an interest in the stated purpose of the Society.
Spouse/Partner: shall be available to those who live in the same household as individual members.
Student: shall be available to students, graduate or undergraduate, in residence at an accredited college or university. Such individuals shall be eligible for student membership for a period not more than seven (7) years. They shall not be eligible to hold an elective post in the Society except as co-chairs of the Student Forum.
Retired: shall be available to persons who have retired and are on a fixed income.
Honorary: may be awarded at the discretion of the Board of Trustees to persons who have made outstanding contributions to further the mission of the Society.
Affiliate: shall be available to non-academic institutions interested in interacting with the Society’s membership. (Examples: Performing arts organizations, commercial music companies, arts festivals, other societies, museums, and the like.) Affiliates receive an electronic subscription to the Bulletin and online access to the Membership Directory, but not the Society’s journal. Affiliates may not vote on Society business.
Individual members in all categories and student members shall be entitled to receive the publications of the Society.
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From the President: Transitions
Sandra Graham, SAM President
As 2018 came to a close, we learned that the Society’s first executive director, Kate Van Winkle Keller, had died. It was an accident of timing that coincided with Mariana Whitmer’s retirement and Megan MacDonald’s hire. Although I had been thinking about transitions all year long, this convergence seems important and worth a reflection on what makes the Society for American Music indispensable, long after American musics have become accepted avenues of study.
Kitty Keller and I crossed paths on the printed page but, regrettably, never in person. Every SAM member, whether we knew her or not, owes her a debt for her work in keeping the Society running and in keeping it vibrant. Her voluminous scholarship remains a legacy, as does her joyous spirit, which I know lives on in Mariana Whitmer, who succeeded Kitty as executive director.
Over the years, Mariana has welcomed people from all walks of life into the Society, especially students, for whom she has advocated tirelessly. Mariana saw the Society transition from a relatively small group of American music “outcasts” to a group that increasingly diversified in numerous ways. She weathered the change from Sonneck Society to Society for American Music and a more comprehensive mission statement. During Mariana’s tenure, new areas of scholarly inquiry became fixtures at our conferences (queer studies, disability studies, film music, music and ecology, sound studies, among many others), as did new modes of sharing research—I think especially of Mariana’s guidance in inaugurating seminars. I can’t even begin to enumerate the changes in technology that have changed her job over the years, which she took in her always-professional stride. And now Mariana, an accomplished film scholar and professor, transitions to SAM member and continues her research and teaching.
Enter Megan MacDonald, whose extensive experience with student organizations (including SAM’s Student Forum) represents a new generation that will be sustaining SAM for the next twenty years or so. Kitty Keller’s spirit lives on in her as well, in her inclusiveness, welcoming demeanor, creativity, and love of this Society.
Transitions, balanced with stability (we have to keep breathing!), are the mark of a healthy organism. The Society for American Music is healthy. But what makes us essential? During the hiring process this past year, I asked this question repeatedly. I can answer only for myself. I love SAM because SAM is marginal—in a good way. We aren’t the biggest. We aren’t the richest. We aren’t the most prestigious (depending on how you define that term). But we are the best—at supporting one another in our endeavors, in offering research money to a range of constituencies, at conferences that blend performance and scholarship and fun (excursions!), at collaborating. We know one another. And we know each other’s passions.
Of course, we aren’t perfect. We need to give more support to contingent workers and students. With Hispanics making up almost 18% of the U.S. population; with ongoing debates about immigration, asylum, and human rights at the US-Mexican border; to say nothing about music and music scholarship in and about Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America—we need to fund the Latinx fellowship, yesterday. We need to deal with the shrinking and shifting academic job market. There are always improvements to be made and challenges to be met, but to my mind what makes SAM special is that its members are willing to listen, communicate, and commit.
This is my last president’s column. When I first became president I thought that two years was scarcely time to accomplish anything meaningful. I now have a very different outlook. The Board, committees, volunteers, and I leave behind a long list of accomplishments: diversity and inclusiveness training for the Board; a new logo; a new website; many revisions to the Handbook; a (now permanent) committee addressing the needs of contingent workers; getting the Wayne Shirley fellowship “online”; and of course, hiring and transitioning to a new executive director.
The seeds for many of these achievements were planted by past president Charles Garrett, and before him Judy Tsou and Kitty Preston. I am obliged to them all, but most especially Chuck, who I’m sure scarcely felt “past” during my first year as president!
Each president is tilling and sowing for the next one. I am looking forward to my own transition to “past president” and welcoming the inimitable Tammy Kernodle at the end of our March conference. Although I don’t know exactly what she’ll have in store for us, I know that SAM will never be the same! And I can’t wait.
Thank you for trusting me to guide SAM, thank you for your support and collaboration and extraordinary volunteerism—and thank you for all the hugs!
Announcements from the President
Thanks to our NOLA sponsors
As described elsewhere in the Bulletin, the NOLA conference is going to be overflowing with richness. SAM is grateful to our co-hosts, The Historic New Orleans Collection and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, who have guided us with their expertise and are donating space and resources for the conference. We also thank Louisiana State University for generous financial support.
President’s Roundtable in NOLA, co-sponsored by CDI
On conference Saturday the President and Committee on Diversity and Inclusion will jointly sponsor a roundtable titled “Sustaining Music Cultures in New Orleans.” This has been designed specifically for those working, or interested in working, outside the academy—and of course everyone is welcome! Moderated by ethnomusicologist Matt Sakakeeny (Tulane), it will feature representatives of seven local community arts organizations and archives. Please put this on your calendar and join us for this presentation and discussion.
Saturday Night “Un-banquet” in NOLA
It’s no surprise that New Orleans is going to be expensive. In order to make our Saturday night festivities affordable, we are foregoing the banquet this year only in favor of a hearty appetizer buffet. There will still be tables for sitting, and the appetizers should satisfy most people’s need for an evening meal. This will be followed by a fantastic zydeco band led by accordionist Sunpie Barnes. Bring your dancing shoes and please make this part of your conference experience!
American Music available with SAM membership
Did you know that when you join or renew your membership to SAM you can order a discounted subscription to American Music? SAM is delighted to partner with University of Illinois Press on this offer.
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Introducing Megan MacDonald
Sandra Graham and Megan MacDonald
Dear SAM Members,
Megan MacDonald, SAM’s new
As you know, our beloved Mariana Whitmer will be retiring in the coming year, and for the past seven months the search for a new executive director has been underway. I would like to introduce our new ED: SAM member C. Megan MacDonald, who lives in Seattle, Washington. Megan holds a PhD in musicology from Florida State University with a dissertation titled “Singing Faith: Intersectional Identities of Depression-Era White Gospel Music” (2017). She has presented scholarly papers widely; has taught at the university level; has extensive experience in organizing conferences at the regional level; is a performer; and is at home in musicology, ethnomusicology, and American studies. She currently serves as an administrative manager of a company with a $450,000 budget, for which she oversees payroll, purchasing, employee scheduling, and customer service. She has assisted with website editing and backend management of the educational website CPALMS.org. At every step of the hiring process she impressed us with her calm and friendly demeanor, her professionalism, her creativity, and her understanding of and commitment to the Society for American Music.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the search committee: R. Allen Lott, chair; Neil Lerner; and Kay Norton. Please thank them when you can! The committee vetted twelve applications and video-interviewed seven of the candidates. At AMS in San Antonio, the committee and the executive board interviewed two superb finalists. The decision to hire Megan was unanimous and approved by the board. I want to commend the hiring committee for their dedication to a thoughtful, equitable process.
We will celebrate Mariana in New Orleans, although it will be impossible to thoroughly acknowledge what she has meant to SAM as an organization and to each of us personally. This joyful new beginning is mingled with sadness in bidding farewell to a treasured administrator, friend, and colleague—except that we aren’t really saying goodbye. Mariana will remain with SAM as a member.
Megan will officially come on board on January 15, 2019. Mariana will continue as ED through the NOLA conference. A transition plan is in the works, and we’ll inform you about next steps in the new year.
Dear Society for American Music,
I am humbled and honored to step into a new role as executive director. When I first placed membership in 2012, I was drawn to the society’s dedication to innovation, inclusion, and kindness. These are the same qualities I hope to advance during my time as ED. I am indebted to Mariana Whitmer’s exemplary work in this position and her willingness to transition through the meeting in New Orleans. As we look toward the future, I want you to know I am here for you: tell me your aspirations and your fears, your victories and your concerns. I want to help you make the most of our mission—our dedication to the study, teaching, creation, and dissemination of all musics in the Americas.
I look forward to seeing you all in New Orleans!
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A Culture of Giving
The SAM Development Committee is pleased to announce a new initiative—A Culture of Giving. The Society needs your ongoing financial support to keep the benefits of membership accessible to all who love American music—especially students, early career professionals, and independent scholars. We have three primary motivations:
1. to keep annual dues low
2. to keep conference registration fees low
3. to support SAM’s research and service mission.
Our dues and conference fees represent only a fraction of what it costs to fuel our activities. SAM needs you to continue to thrive.
The SAM 2.0 campaign achieved incredible success, raising more than $1 million and creating 15 new endowed fellowships that provide more than $36,000 in annual research support to members. The Society also provides two publication subventions and seven annual awards, plus our traditional grants for student travel to our annual conference. Two more research funds remain in development and need support: the Latinx and the Kate Van Winkle Keller Fellowship for Research in Early American Music and Dance.
In the past year we have launched a new website and hired a new executive director, both of which make new demands on our annual costs. Thus, we are launching A Culture of Giving to provide regular, dependable support for the Society’s work. We need one-time and monthly donations to our operating Sustaining Donor Fund. Our initial goal is to recruit 100 “Sustaining Donors” who commit to a recurring monthly credit-card gift of $2 or more. Sustaining Donors are listed on the SAM website and provide urgent and essential support for our new executive director position.
Another way to support the Society is through the Amazon Smile Program at smile.amazon.com. Just select “Society for American Music” as the beneficiary of your charitable bonus for purchases you are already making. Finally, we are also interested in talking with members about legacy bequests. New tax laws provide opportunities to maximize your impact by writing the Society for American Music into your will. Please contact any committee member or SAM officer for information.
Thank you for your generous support of the Society. SAM is a member organization and we are no more and no less than the collective excellence of our member’s dedication and devotion. Your generosity is essential to SAM’s continued success. Visit www.american-music.org/donations/ now to become a Sustaining Donor.
Mark Clague, SAM Development Committee Chair
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A Major Copyright Victory
This has been an extremely significant year in the long fight for copyright reform in the United States. On October 11, 2018, the president signed into law the Music Modernization Act (MMA), which includes significant benefits for archives and scholars of historical recordings. The Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) with SAM’s support has been in the thick of the fight for these changes. Thanks are due to members of both associations who have supported these efforts.
Tim Brooks, SAM member and Chair of
ARSC Copyright & Fair Use Committee
After years of being stalled, major copyright legislation suddenly began rocketing through Congress in January. The bills initially proposed virtually ignored the needs of archives and scholars, but at the last minute we were able to help turn that around. To put this in context it is worth reviewing the evolution of the ARSC/SAM involvement with copyright reform.
2002: ARSC signs on to an amicus brief in the Supreme Court’s Eldred v. Ashcroft case challenging the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act. This was the first time ARSC had ever publicly intervened in copyright litigation or legislation.
2005: The National Recording Preservation Board commissions ARSC members Tim Brooks and Steven Smolian to carry out a Survey of Reissues of U.S. Recordings, which proved how little rights holders were doing to make available the historical recordings they controlled. This undercut one of the principal arguments rights holders had been using to justify long copyright terms, and has been frequently cited in subsequent studies and reports.
2007: The ARSC Board publishes its first public position on copyright, consisting of five goals that would facilitate preservation of and access to historical recordings. The first goal is to bring recordings made before 1972 under federal (rather than state) law.
2008: ARSC hires a professional lobbyist (who it could only afford for four months) to introduce its proposals to key players in Washington, and assess the chances of success. Committee Chair Brooks and ARSC past and current presidents Sam Brylawski and David Seubert are point persons, holding many meetings, and learning how to navigate the corridors of power.
2008: ARSC forms the Historical Recording Coalition for Access and Preservation in order to gain academic allies. SAM, the Music Library Association, and the Popular Culture Association join. Leaders attend and give speeches at other association conferences, to drum up further support.
2009: In its first major victory, ARSC convinces a powerful congressman to insert a provision into an omnibus budget bill requiring the Copyright Office to conduct a study of the “desirability and means” of bringing pre-1972 recordings under federal law. The Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) violently opposes any such study, however on discovering who had inserted it (Rep. David Obey), they back off.
2011: As ordered, the Copyright Office holds public hearings and calls for written comments (both of which ARSC and SAM participate in), then issues its recommendations to Congress. It basically endorses our position that pre-72s should be brought under federal law, and rejects the strong arguments of the RIAA that they should not. The Report (which agreed with legal advice commissioned by and submitted by ARSC) undermines another principal industry argument, that limiting copyright terms would constitute a “taking” under the Constitution.
2012–2017: ARSC members meet with key officials in Congress and at the Copyright Office, and with other Washington insiders, in order to keep them aware of our goals and urge action. But Congress fails to act.
2013: Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (“Flo and Eddie”) launch state-by-state lawsuits to have the courts decree that royalties be paid for streaming their pre-1972 recordings, undercutting our attempts to broker compromise legislation in which artists would get royalties but in return libraries and archives would get relief from onerous copyright restrictions. ARSC, spearheaded by Eric Harbeson working with pro bono outside counsel, files amicus briefs in three jurisdictions, opposing the suits. Flo and Eddie’s strategy ultimately fails.
Early 2018: Copyright suddenly catches fire in Congress, pushed hard by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The committee proposes bills that are highly favorable to Big Copyright, but do nothing for archives and scholars. Twenty “stakeholders” endorse the bills, including the RIAA, songwriter groups, streaming services, and others. ARSC attempts to line up allies and make our needs heard before the Goodlatte bills (dubbed The Music Modernization Act) become a fait accompli. The ARSC Chair attends a House Judiciary Committee field hearing in New York promoting Goodlatte’s bills; in the two-and-a-half-hour hearing there is no mention of the public, access or preservation. The Chair, Harbeson, Seubert and others pursue archives at major institutions for support—fruitlessly. Emails are sent to congressional staffers and appeals for member support are posted on the SAM and ARSC listservs.
March 2018: The ARSC Chair contacts Public Knowledge, a public interest group, after reading that they supported goals similar to ours. They become a very valuable ally, listening to our specific concerns and including ARSC in their working group. The Internet Archive (Brewster Kahle), UCSB (Seubert), and Equal Citizens (Lawrence Lessig) also join the working group. ARSC signs advocacy letters distributed to Congress by Public Knowledge. Messages are sent to SAM and ARSC members urging them to write their congresspersons. The Chair writes three blog posts (in March, April, May) arguing our position, and these are further distributed.
April 2018: The House of Representatives passes the MMA, with minimal changes. It goes to the Senate.
May 2018: Senator Ron Wyden (OR) introduces the much more favorable ACCESS Act to replace the portion of the MMA dealing with pre-72 recordings (called CLASSICS). There is fierce resistance from industry music groups, including Songwriters of North America which buys billboards in Wyden’s home state attacking him (“Senator Wyden, Why do you hate music?”). ARSC sends an email blast to ARSC members urging them to contact their Senators and support ACCESS, while Sandra Graham, president of SAM, posts its endorsement on the SAM homepage.
July–August 2018: Wyden does not back down, works out a compromise with Senator Coons, the lead backer of the bill. ARSC is consulted during this process.
September 25, 2018: Senate passes a modified MMA that incorporates Wyden’s changes, greatly benefiting archives, scholars and the public, and the House concurs. President Trump signs the bill into law on October 11.
- To get anything done in Washington, you must be patient, and very, very persistent. Many along the way told us “this is hopeless.” Ignore them.
- You must have allies, and they need to be allies with clout. Rep. Obey (who we reached via musician Stephen Wade), the U.S. Copyright Office, Public Knowledge, and Senator Wyden were all absolutely critical in achieving our goals.
- Institutional libraries and archives were of little help, ignoring us or declining to get involved. Nor was the American Library Association of much help. Several people told us to “get letters of support from institutions,” but institutions seem very reluctant to do this. Only UCSB, due to the strong advocacy of D. Seubert, individually stepped forward. Archives need better representation in Washington. In Washington, the meek and the cautious are eaten alive.
Many ARSC and SAM members helped in this effort, including members who stepped up and donated and/or who wrote to their congressperson. It should be noted that Public Knowledge, which was such a great ally, is also a non-profit organization and appreciates donations of any amount.
Here are key provisions of the final bill relating to recordings.
Establishes a true public domain (all uses) for recordings for the first time. Initially this will be for pre-1923 recordings, but later it will include later years as well.
Applies federal exceptions and limitations for preservation activities (Sec. 107, 108) to all pre-72 recordings.
Includes provisions to allow non-profit streaming of recordings which are verified to be out of print. This is a start on “orphan works.”
State law is preempted, ending the “patchwork quilt” of state laws that has so hindered archivists.
Pre-23s will enter the public domain only after a three-year “transition period,” i.e. December 2021.
Later recordings get even longer “transition periods” tacked on to their nominal 95-year term. 1923–1946 recordings will have an effective copyright term of 100 years (95+5), and 1947–1956 recordings a 110-year term (95+15). Recordings made between 1957–1972 will go into the public domain in 2067, as previously. Those periods are a long way off, however, and perhaps the battle for another day will be to soften these provisions at some point in the future.
The MMA is compromise legislation in the best sense of the word, where no one got everything they wanted but all benefited. It was totally non-partisan. It contains many provisions benefiting industry stakeholders, which is why it ultimately passed unanimously. Among other things it streamlines music licensing by setting up a publicly accessible database and a collective to identify owners of songs and pay them, distributes royalties for songs whose owners can’t be identified to current publishers (an estimated $1.5 billion per year windfall for songs they don’t even own), gives recording rights owners their long-sought royalties for streaming of pre-72 recordings, and for the first time pays royalties to producers of recordings.
This is not the end of the battle for better copyright law. There are still many things that need to be done, including reining in overly long copyright terms, updating exceptions for preservation work, and allowing broad use of orphan works. I hope that a new generation of ARSC and SAM members will take up the fight. This success against overwhelming odds shows that it can be done.
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Journal of the Society for American Music
Volume 13, Number 1 (February 2019)
“A Circuit Tour of the Globe”: “Hiawatha” and the Double-Stake of Imperial Pop
Frederick J. Schenker
Beyond the Candelabra: The Liberace Show and the Remediation of Beethoven
Selling “The Things Money Can’t Buy”: Piano Advertising in the Mid-Twentieth Century
Paul Michael Covey
Reconstructing the History of Motown Session Musicians: The Carol Kaye–James Jamerson Controversy
Brian F. Wright
William Cheng, Just Vibrations: The Purpose of Sounding Good
John D. Spilker
Timothy Wise, Yodeling and Meaning in American Music
Jacqueline Warwick and Allison Adrian, Voicing Girlhood in Popular Music: Performance, Authority, Authenticity
Ronald Radano and Tejumola Olaniyan, Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique
Christine Bacareza Balance, Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America
Laurent Dubois, The Banjo: America’s African Instrument
Christopher J. Smith
Jean E. Snyder, Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance
Kristen M. Turner
Gillian Siddall and Ellen Waterman, Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound, and Subjectivity
Composer Diversity Database; Music Theory Examples by Women
Kendra Preston Leonard
St. Louis Symphony, David Robertson, conductor, The Gershwin Moment: Rhapsody in Blue & Concerto in F
Michael Gracey, director, The Greatest Showman
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Donte Ford, Tucson, AZ
Kelli Rae Tubbs, Chisago City, MN
Anthony Arnone, Iowa City, IO
Brian Anderson, McKinney, TX
Matthew Joseph, New York, NY
Daniel Smith, Marina, CA
Michele Newman, Bloomington, IN
Andre Fludd, Jersey City, NJ
Alyssa Wells, Canton, MI
Kirsten Westerman, Cleves, OH
Maurice Wheeler, Ypsilanti, MI
Ben Safran, Philadelphia, PA
Andrew Vogel, Saint Louis, MO
Jerry Pergolesi, Palm Springs, CA
Elaine Fitz Gibbon, Massachusetts
Rebecca Caroll, Baton Rouge, LA
Michael Lasser, Rochester, NY
Lynne Bonner, Los Angeles, CA
Tina Bucuvalas, Tarpon Springs, FL
Thomas Goldsmith, Raleigh, NC
Thomas Goldsmith, Raleigh, NC
Jeremy Drummond, N. Chesterfield, VA
Ryan Lambe, Santa Cruz, CA
Patricia Rolland, Henrietta, NY
Andrea Olmstead, Boston, MA
Lance Boos, Islip Terrace, NY
Amanda Martinez, CA
Brian Sengdala, Somerset, NJ
Roger Mason, Miami, FL
Melissa Burrage, Weston, MA
Sarah Kraaz, Ripon, WI
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The Music of the Stanley Brothers. Gary B. Reid. University of Illinois Press, 2015. 286pp. ISBN: 978-0-252-08033-3. Paperback.
Laura Shearing Turner, University of Chicago
Among bluegrass musicians, scholars, and enthusiasts, the reputation of Ralph and Carter Stanley as stylistic and reportorial innovators is likely undisputed. Sitting amid a pantheon of early bluegrass pioneers that includes Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, and Earl Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers’ lives, careers, and musical impact have attracted much scholarly attention. Gary B. Reid’s meticulous study is a comprehensive, chronological presentation of the musicians’ commercial recording history, documenting every session from their first at Rich-R-Tone records in 1947 (Johnson City, Tennessee) to their finale as a duo at the 1966 Brown County Jamboree, Indiana. The story Reid tells illuminates the musicians’ shifting sonic terrain and style as well as their movements between small and major labels (Columbia and Mercury among them), appearances at national folk festivals, and involvement with rural-oriented radio programs.
The book opens with an introduction and glowing endorsement from leading bluegrass scholar Neil V. Rosenberg—a clear indication of the quality of research and its contribution to the field. Reid, Rosenberg explains, began compiling a complete discography and biography of the Stanley Brothers in the mid-1970s––a project that culminated some forty years later in the publication of this text. Furthermore, he introduces the author as the founder of old-time and bluegrass record label Copper Creek. As one might expect from someone passionate about painstaking discographic compilation and curation, Reid’s study is data heavy. The data, however, are well contextualized and animated through accessible, compelling prose.
In terms of structure, the book is segmented into five main chapters that correspond with distinct phases of the Stanley Brothers’ recording careers. Within each chapter, Reid outlines individual sessions in chronological order, explaining their contexts, the tunes and songs recorded, and the personnel present. Rather than presenting dry data, Reid brings the sessions to life through the inclusion of anecdotes and stories. To provide an example, he explains how the brothers’ impromptu ninth session with Mercury Records (February, 1957) was catalyzed by major floods that had recently caused widespread devastation in southwestern Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and eastern Kentucky. In immediate response to the disaster, the Stanleys wrote a topical song that was rushed into production and released by Mercury. Thus, this recording capitalized on the freshness of the event in listeners’ minds (62–3). At the close of each chapter, Reid includes a tabulated discography providing further data on, and cataloguing information for, individual recordings. While the array of numbers and names listed in the discographies might look intimidating and impenetrable, Neil V. Rosenberg authors a helpful user guide that is included at the outset of the text. These discographies are particularly useful for scholars, enthusiasts, or record collectors keen to locate listed items or to learn which singers and instrumentalists were involved on the respective recordings.
For readers interested in the stylistic developments and transformations of the band and early bluegrass more generally, Reid’s study provides a rich narrative. In chapter 1, for example, he documents the short period (1947–1948) in which the musicians rose from commercially unknown to regionally acclaimed. For interested parties, it was the musicians’ signature blend of long-established old-time and burgeoning bluegrass styles that was so appealing (16). Yet this captivating sound and style evident in the brothers’ recordings made for Rich-R-Tone and at WCYB radio (Bristol, Tennessee–Virginia) bore the influences of a handful of other musicians. For instance, Ralph Stanley’s employment of a two-finger banjo technique in the early recordings was influenced by old-time musician Wade Mainer (13), while fiddler Art Wooten’s short tenure with the Stanleys’ band, The Clinch Mountain Boys, introduced a distinctive sound that had been shaped during his time with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys (14). As Reid demonstrates in the chapters that follow, the Stanley Brothers’ style, sound, and vocal/instrumental technique continued to mature, evolve, and solidify in originality as their careers progressed. In addition, the frequently shifting roster of musicians who performed alongside the brothers as the Clinch Mountain Boys brought with them a wide spectrum of musical influences and lineages. As each chapter concludes with a discography, interested readers may wish to trace these subtle changes sonically too.
Beyond recording history and stylistic transformation, Reid’s study provides insight into bluegrass’s growing presence on rural radio programs and at folk festivals. As many scholars of old-time, bluegrass, and early country have noted, radio programs targeting predominantly rural audiences—Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and Chicago’s WLS Barn Dance are salient examples—were instrumental in catapulting multiple artists to fame. Reid illuminates the vital role of Bristol’s WCYB radio—in particular, a show titled Farm & Fun Time—in building an audience for the Stanley Brothers and for bluegrass more generally. From the mid-1940s until the late 1950s, Reid explains, the Stanleys held regular slots on the show and were immensely popular with the audience. As the brothers traveled and relocated quite extensively, they also had tenures of different length at stations including WPTF in Raleigh, North Carolina, WOAY in Oak Hill, West Virginia, and WKWH in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Folk festivals, especially from the late 1950s through the 1960s, became other major outlets through which bluegrass reached ever-increasing audiences. In addition to their busy recording and radio careers, the Stanley Brothers performed (and were recorded) at a number of national and campus folk festivals and concerts that included Bill Monroe’s Brown County Jamboree in Bean Blossom, Indiana (57; 197–200), the Newport Folk Festival (100; 184–86), The University of Chicago Folk Festival (119–22; 198–90), and New York University’s Friends of Old-Time Music concert (135–136). The documentation on festivals Reid provides is of value to scholars interested in the so-called North American folk “revival” of the 1950s and 1960s, especially those keen to understand how a commercial genre like bluegrass fitted within broader contemporary understandings of “folk.”
In many ways, Reid’s text resembles a well-curated and meticulously crafted archive. The wealth of information presented and contextualized here may appeal to music scholars (especially those interested in old-time, bluegrass, and early country), musicians, bluegrass aficionados, and record collectors alike. For some, this study might work best as a reference text rather than one to be read from front to back. Reid’s segmentation of the text into five major chapters, however, makes it easier for readers to navigate quickly through to the sessions and time periods that are most relevant to their research.
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Building New Banjos for an Old-Time World. Richard Jones-Bamman. University of Illinois Press, 2017. 288pp. ISBN: 978-0-252-08284-9. Paperback.
Phil Jamison, Warren Wilson College
In Building New Banjos For an Old-Time World, Richard Jones-Bamman explores the world of contemporary banjo builders—specifically, those who build open-back, five-string banjos for today’s old-time musicians. He points out that, unlike the fiddle and guitar, the five-string banjo is limited almost exclusively to the genres of old-time and bluegrass music, but he limits his focus to old-time rather than bluegrass, citing a greater variety of design features and the fact that there is less standardization of form in old-time banjos. Before turning his attention to the banjo makers, however, Jones-Bamman provides the reader with a brief history of the banjo. He traces the historical development, changing context, and perception of this American instrument, which he suggests “mirrors” the history of our nation. He traces the banjo from its origin as a handmade rural black folk instrument with West African roots, to its growing popularity with white Americans following the advent of blackface minstrelsy, to its heyday as a respectable parlor instrument for the white urban middle class following the rise of industrialization, to its decline in popularity during the jazz age, and finally to its continued presence in the music of Appalachia and the rural South, where, as he points out, it is now firmly planted “in our national consciousness as a symbol of white culture” (225). As he recounts this history and the evolution of the instrument, he chronicles the design innovations and modifications that occurred along the way, culminating in the classic parlor banjos of the late nineteenth century.
Jones-Bamman portrays the contemporary old-time scene as an anti-modernist movement that grew out of the folk music revival of the 1950s and 60s. He describes what one of his informants calls the “Old-Time Nation” as a homogeneous group of white, middle-class “revivalists” who are looking for something older and more authentic than commercial folk and bluegrass music. Jones-Bamman, himself a banjo player since early 1970s, lived on the West Coast before relocating to the Northeast in 1996 to teach music at Eastern Connecticut State University, and he writes from a decidedly urban/suburban, Northern, non-Southern perspective. Rather than focusing on the living tradition that still exists within rural Appalachia, he focuses on the national contemporary old-time music scene. He includes interviews with seven musicians, all from the West Coast and New England, and he profiles two music festivals: a weekend music campout in northeast Pennsylvania that is attended primarily by old-time musicians from the Northeast and the Appalachian String Band Festival at Clifftop, West Virginia. Although the Appalachian String Band Festival takes place at a state park in rural Appalachia, it is not specifically a regional event, but a national gathering—Jones-Bamman calls it a “benchmark event”—that attracts not hundreds but thousands of old-time musicians from across the country. These old-time music devotees, according to Jones-Bamman, are nostalgic for simpler times, and they seek an authentic connection to the past through their music. The way to do this, he suggests, in addition to learning a repertoire of old fiddle tunes and wearing “suitably old-fashioned, or at least well-worn, clothing,” is by playing a vintage instrument (55). Those, however, are in limited supply, so there is clearly a demand for new old-time banjos.
Jones-Bamman includes profiles and interviews with twenty-two contemporary builders who make open-back old-time banjos. They, like his musician interviewees, are mostly from the North. Only six are from south of the Mason-Dixon line; three live in Appalachia. The majority of them produce banjos that are modeled on the older vintage banjos of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One exception is Kevin Fore of Surry County, North Carolina, whose banjos are based on those built by legendary banjo player Kyle Creed in the 1960s and 70s. Seven of the makers build replicas of the earlier gourd banjos and the pre-industrial minstrel-style banjos of the 1840s–70s. According to Jones-Bamman, the goal of these craftsmen (they are primarily men) is to achieve “old sounds from new banjos,” and these instruments, he suggests, are symbols of a “collectively imagined past” in the old-time music community. More importantly, however, these banjo builders have created instruments that have the tonal qualities and playability desired by contemporary old-time banjo players, and his informants recount some of the challenges they have had to overcome to achieve this goal.
The majority of these banjo builders had prior experience as luthiers and doing instrument repair work, and for the most part they are banjo players themselves. They are a part of the old-time music community, and they connect with potential customers at old-time music events such as the Appalachian String Band Festival. Unlike in the world of factory-made instruments, this personal interaction provides a channel of communication between the makers and the consumers. According to Jones-Bamman, this relationship “engenders and supports a symbiotic environment, one in which the makers and players interact regularly and determine together the path old-time banjo music will adopt” (156). As a result, these banjo makers, guided by current aesthetics, have developed their craft to meet the demand for quality old-time banjos. They have created new instruments that are fairly conventional, with a few modern design features added, and that are superior in quality to contemporary factory-made banjos.
Aside from tone and playability, Jones-Bamman suggests that today’s middle-class urban and suburban old-time banjo players, who seek to emulate rural Appalachian musicians, desire banjos with ornate inlays copied from the vintage parlor banjos. He writes, “The decorative elements on most contemporary old-time banjos reflect an aesthetic that developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in conjunction with the instrument’s successful transformation into an item for the middle-class parlor” (154). He sees this as “the antithesis of old-time aesthetics” (43) and a paradox—“instruments that previously represented the height of urban sophistication now roped into service as surrogates for the rural past” (16). He suggests that the vintage banjos that are coveted by today’s old-time banjo players were created for urban middle-class parlors, not rural Appalachia. It should be noted, however, that some of the role models of today’s old-time musicians who recorded in the 1920s (e.g. Charlie Poole and Uncle Dave Macon) were rural Southerners who played parlor banjos with ornate inlays. Jones-Bamman finds it ironic that today’s Northern banjo players are attracted to instruments similar to those marketed to their middle-class ancestors, rather than those played by their role models, the rural Southern musicians whom they listen to on source recordings. I suspect, though, that their musical idols would have likewise preferred more expensive instruments with fancy inlays if they could have afforded them.
To put all of this talk of building banjos in perspective, Jones-Bamman provides a detailed description of the steps involved in building an old-time banjo: from the selection of the wood, to countless design decisions regarding aesthetics, structure, and tone, to choice of hardware, to designing pearl inlays, to the wood finish and final set up. These technical details, explained in the words of the banjo builders themselves, nicely illustrate the evolution of the craft of contemporary banjo building.
While there are a number of other books available about the history and manufacture of the banjo and its role in American culture and society, Building New Banjos For an Old-Time World is a worthy addition to the existing literature. This book will be of interest to anyone interested in old-time banjos and the current national old-time music scene, but in particular those interested in the craft of contemporary banjo builders.
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Historia de la música en España e Hispano América. Volume five: La música en España en el siglo XIX. Cristina Bordas, Celsa Alonso, Juan José Carreras and José Máximo Leza. Juan José Carreras, editor. Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2018. 750 pp. ISBN: 978-84-375-0776-7. Softcover.
F. Javier Albo, Georgia State University
The newly published Historia de la Música en España e Hispano América is the most ambitious project on Spanish music history to be undertaken by Spanish and Latin American scholars currently working in Spain. The work comprises eight volumes, all of which have been published between 2009 and 2018 (not in chronological order). They are: Volume one (from Antiquity to the late 1400s); Volume two (the sixteenth century in Spain and its empire in the Americas, the so-called “Golden Age” of Spanish art—and music); Volume three (the seventeenth century); Volume four (the eighteenth century); Volume five (music in Spain in the nineteenth century); Volume six (music in Latin America in the nineteenth century); Volume seven (music in Spain in the twentieth century); and Volume eight (music in Latin America in the twentieth century).
With the publication of the fifth volume, which covers the “long nineteenth century” (that is, from around the time of the French Revolution to the onset of World War II), the collection is now complete. Juan José Carreras, a brilliant musicologist of impressive erudition, is the editor of the volume and author or co-author of five of the six chapters (the others are Celsa Alonso, Cristina Bordas, Teresa Cascudo and José Máximo Leza). Carreras has recently been appointed corresponding member of the American Musicological Society, a circumstance that will surely strengthen his relations with his American colleagues in the near future.
The first two chapters, El siglo musical (“The Musical Century”) and La invención de la música española (“The Invention of Spanish Music”) read as an introduction to the rest. Their purpose is to give a general assessment of the history and culture of a particularly turbulent period of Spanish history and its effect on the production and reception of music. They also provide a meticulous and inclusive analysis of the economic, political, and cultural contexts. The remaining four chapters discuss musical issues in a more conventional way—that is, in chronological order: La transición a un nuevo siglo, 1790–1830 (“The Transition towards a New Century, 1790–1830”); Modernización musical y cultura nacional, 1830–60 (“Musical Modernization and National Culture, 1830–60”); La consolidación de una cultura musical, 1860–90 (“The Consolidation of a Musical Culture, 1860–90”); and Perspectivas modernistas del fin de siglo (“Fin-de-siècle Modernistic Perspectives”). To the advantage of the reader, each chapter includes a comprehensive annotated bibliography.
Written from the perspective of the twenty-first century, this book has benefited from the impact of technology, especially the availability of digitized sources (the most important nineteenth-century Spanish newspapers and journals, which include indispensable reviews of performances, have been digitized). Its authors have applied methodological approaches hitherto overlooked in Spanish musical historiography, particularly the systematic interpretation of texts using a hermeneutical approach, thereby putting aside dogmatic attitudes and certain prejudices that have plagued past studies. For example, the volume dispels doubts about the supposedly limited presence of instrumental music in Spain, questions the reputation of the zarzuela as the quintessential voice of Spanish dramatic music, and defends the active role of women (on the stage and in the home) in the production and dissemination of music. It also manages to reclaim the presence and position of Spanish music in Europe, and of European music in Spain.
Carreras’s opening statement, “The nineteenth century invented Spanish music,” is as dramatic as it is accurate. It is the concept of Spanish music, Carreras explains, that emerged then: the set of assumptions that composers, performers, and listeners outside Spain identified as unequivocally and authentically Spanish. This was the result of Romantic aesthetics developed within the European bourgeoisie, who found the essence of the Spanish sound embodied in the most universally recognizable form of folk music, Andalusian flamenco, Spain’s most successful musical export. European composers, particularly French and Russian, “borrowed” elements of Spanish popular music—descending Phrygian scales, triplets, augmented seconds, lively rhythms in triple meter, to name just a few—and defined them as uniquely Spanish for their listeners. Meanwhile, in Spain, composers and music critics like Francisco Asenjo Barbieri, Hilarión Eslava, Felip Pedrell, Antonio Peña y Goñi, and Mariano Soriano Fuertes kept making desperate, unsuccessful efforts to find the “authentic soul” (as opposed to the one imposed by non-Spaniards) of the nation’s music. That soul remained elusive: the disappointing attempt to create a Spanish national opera is an eloquent example of the composers’ failure. Only late in the century would a group of them (Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados and Manuel de Falla) manage to make an impact beyond the country’s borders, thanks to their deliberate effort to merge European modernist innovations with Spanish folk traditions.
Carreras and his collaborators have understood that Spanish historiography needs to catch up with current international scholarship. To that end, they seem to have acknowledged the methodological and interpretative lines of authoritative American scholars currently working on Spanish nineteenth-century music, such as Walter Clark, Carol A. Hess, and James Parakilas, to name just a few. In fact, one of the most remarkable accomplishments of the book is its systematic questioning of stereotypes and the emphasis it places on approaching issues from different angles.
This is hardly a book for the classroom. It does not discuss composers’ lives and works, contain any scores or analyses, or include charts or more than a few occasional illustrations. The reader must find elsewhere biographical profiles of some of the lesser-known composers and performers, and it is assumed that the reader should be acquainted with the basic facts (or not so basic) of nineteenth-century Spanish history and culture. Compared to some similar books on nineteenth-century music written in recent years by American and British scholars, this Historia de la música is perhaps closest to The Cambridge History of American Music (1998), edited by David Nicholls, and The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music (2002), edited by Jim Samson, in structure, form, and approach. Conversely, it is least similar to books like Richard Taruskin’s Music in the Nineteenth Century (2005), from his five-volume Oxford History of Western Music or Walter Frisch’s Music in the Nineteenth Century (2013), both of which are perfectly suitable for the classroom.
There is an apparent absence of homogeneity in the writing styles of the editor and the other authors. Carreras’ style is erudite, all-encompassing, and prone to the profuse development of ideas and statements. The chapters written by the other authors have a more direct style (didactic, one might say) that is more appealing, perhaps, to the general reader.
Some readers may find it disappointing that folk traditions—flamenco particularly—of Spain are for the most part neglected: a scholarly book on nineteenth-century American music that omitted forms and genres of popular and folk music like the blues or ragtime would probably be regarded as somehow incomplete.
The size of the volume (let alone the whole collection) will probably prevent it from being translated into English any time soon, if ever. It is regrettable, for any English-speaking scholar (or reader) interested in the subject would benefit from being able to read this book. As a scholar who has done some research on music reception in both Spain and the United States, this book will be a great tool to help me establish comparisons and make connections between the two nations—and Volume six will facilitate connections between Latin America and the United States. To my convenience, its methodological approach and choice of topics is up to date and noticeably modelled after current American and British scholarship, including an emphasis on the sociological aspects of music production and reception. My American colleagues, many of whom are interested in the topic and hungry for new and intelligent views on penned by Spanish musicologists, will benefit equally from this book.
In addition, one hopes libraries in American universities and colleges will consider the possibility of acquiring the collection, as some of them did a few years ago with the monumental, ten-volume Diccionario de la música española e hispanoamericana (1999–2002), edited by Emilio Casares, the best reference book about Spanish and Latin American music (including popular and folk music) available on the market.
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Gold Experience: Following Prince in the ’90s. Jim Walsh. University of Minnesota Press, 2017. 160 pp. ISBN 978-1-5179-0258-2. Paperback.
Suzanne Wint, independent scholar
Jim Walsh’s Gold Experience is a welcome addition to the collection books on Prince published after the musician’s death. It is important for its attention to a time that has not been well covered, how it situates the international superstar within Minneapolis culture, and its respect and admiration for the Artist without loss of a critical ear. Gold Experience is an enjoyable read for fans and scholars alike.
The book reprints a selection of Walsh’s articles from his time as pop music critic at the St. Paul Pioneer Press in the 1990s, as well as liner notes from the out-of-print album The Gold Experience (1995). In reviews of albums and local live performances, we come to understand Walsh’s bona fides as journalist, fan and musician. The pieces are organized chronologically within sections marked by year of original publication from 1994 to 2002, with an introduction written specifically for the book. Clearly, this volume was a labor of love. Walsh writes, “None of these news clips are readily available online, so I had to buy all the transcripts of my stories from newslibrary.com and reproduce them here with permission from the St. Paul Pioneer Press” (xii). In some cases, contextualizing commentary follows an article, discernable as an addition by its placement below a line and its italic typesetting. The lack of index affects how scholars might navigate through these primary sources; however, the clear and charming prose makes it a delight to rediscover information, should one have to seek out details in a subsequent reading.
The merits of this book are many. Very few books about Prince deal with the 1990s, a particularly tumultuous time in both his creative life and his personal life. In this era, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in a battle that culminated in the end of a restrictive record contract with Warner Bros. His own label, Paisley Park Records, closed; he built a new band after dismissing the original members of the New Power Generation; and he explored new forms of music distribution and marketing—some of which have since become the norm. This is a time when many fans and journalists were skeptical of Prince’s brand, and they strayed away. As we can read in this book, Walsh remained an appreciative fan, though he did also express his own skepticism.
This book is a valuable measure of how critics and fans understood Prince’s importance in real time. Recent retrospective analyses of his work offer a broad understanding of the artist’s influence historically, but since Prince’s death, much journalism has strayed toward hagiography that wallows in nostalgia for times that once were—most especially the Purple Rain era (1984). Walsh’s book grounds the reader in late twentieth-century contexts. An example is the December 6, 1998, column chronicling the discussion between Prince and Warner Brothers about reissuing the song “1999” (1982) for New Year’s Eve celebrations in the context of widespread fear concerning a Y2K apocalypse. The column also revisits seven original reviews, extracted from publications ranging from the Village Voice to the Minnesota Tribune. Many have written in the post-Prince era that the album 1999 (1982) moved Prince (and the Revolution) from cult figure to stardom, but Walsh shows that not all of these reviewers recognized the album as significant at the time of issue. Interestingly, these reviews also include critiques that today are associated strongly with Prince’s post-Warner Bros. career: that he engages in “excesses” in putting together an album, and that he is in desperate need of an editor.
Since April 1, 2016, it seems that everyone loves Prince and has always understood the clear genius of his every move. This is precisely why we need Walsh’s book. It collects primary source materials about Prince / The Artist Formerly Known as Prince in a time when the musician’s biography and the history of the Twin Cities is being written behind a scrim of nostalgia. The passage of time certainly focuses the contextual lens, but as Joli Jensen points out, “family, fans, journalists, critics, and scholars are all in the same business of defining a legacy . . . in each case, we are laying claim to our own interpretation of what the celebrity’s life and death can and should tell us.”* Gold Experience affords the reader a first-person, real-time account of Prince in the ’90s with which to compare posthumous retrospectives. It is also a beautiful personal tribute to a local musician and friend.
*Joli Jensen, “On Fandom, Celebrity, and Mediation: Posthumous Possibilities,” in Afterlife as Afterimage: Understanding Posthumous Fame, ed. Steve Jones and Joli Jensen (New York: Peter Lang, 2005), xix.
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Following Up with One of SAM’s Fellowship Recipients
|Heather Buchanan, 2017 Paul Charosh Independent Scholar Fellow
Detroit-based producer and publisher Heather Buchanan, who received the 2017 Charosh Independent Scholar Fellowship, recently made a landmark partnership with California film studio Silver Heart Productions. Buchanan’s work with Silver Heart will increase representation of women and people of color in film and television. A release by AUXmedia, Buchanan’s company, reports that “Akin to Reese Witherspoon’s efforts to bring books to the big screen, Buchanan is building a film and television lineup that specializes in diverse characters, storylines and creators.” Silver Heart owner Michael D. Jones remarked that “Heather’s wealth of experience in developing underrepresented stories is much needed in the film industry.”
Heather won her 2017 fellowship for a research project on “jazz diplomacy” in World War I, with a focus on the life and works of composer James Reese Europe. Her project included creative integration of humanities research in American music, digital platforms, and performance. In February 2018, she reported on the continuation of her Reese research when she was the featured presenter at the Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH) 92nd Annual Black History Luncheon in Washington, DC, where she spoke on “The Remembrance Project,” her print, film and music collaborative project about the Harlem Hellfighters Band.
In addition, she is producer for a film to debut in February 2019, When the Swan Sings on Hastings: A Short Film, featuring jazz and blues from Detroit’s Paradise Valley, an all-black entertainment district demolished to make way for the I-75 freeway. And she has plans for “Love, War & Jazz,” a live podcast to coincide with the centennial of the Treaty of Versailles (which officially ended WWI), which will include the debut of her arrangement of James Reese Europe’s 1919 composition “All of No Man’s Land is Ours.” Heather very much appreciated the support from SAM. She is full of creative ideas for projects and presentations that include public musicology. Stay tuned for more.
Carolyn Bryant, for the Paul Charosh Independent Scholarship Committee
Taking Music Editions Beyond the Library Shelf
A-R Editions announces Recent Researches in Music Online
In June 2018, Wisconsin-based music publisher A-R Editions became the first music publisher to provide electronic access to critical editions of music when they launched Recent Researches in Music Online (RRIMO), a subscription service for libraries. Patrons of subscribing libraries have online, PDF-based, unlimited multi-user access to new and backlist titles published in A-R’s internationally respected series, Recent Researches in Music. The Recent Researches in Music series encompasses music from the middle ages through the early twentieth century and includes nearly 700 titles to date.
“By offering electronic, PDF-based access to our publications, A-R Editions is taking the full content of our critical editions beyond the library shelves and into classrooms, dorm rooms, offices, and practice rooms—anywhere that scholars and musicians can use a computer or mobile device,” states Pamela Whitcomb, Director of Music Publishing at A-R Editions. “This freedom of access is a long-awaited advancement in the field of scholarly music publishing, and we are proud to be the first music publisher to offer electronic versions of critical editions.”
A-R Editions has partnered with Allen Press to reliably deliver RRIMO using their online publishing platform Pinnacle™. This platform provides all the major features necessary for electronic text delivery in a library setting, including IP address ranges for user authentication, TPS logins, DOIs registered with Crossref, and COUNTER-compliant usage statistics. Allen Press also provides technical support for RRIMO subscribers.
A-R Editions has also partnered with Donahue Group Inc. to provide MARC records for all RRIMO titles, as well as for the print versions of new Recent Researches in Music publications. These records will be uploaded to OCLC as well as other cataloging service providers, allowing for easy integration of RRIMO publications into library cataloging systems.
A-R Editions has published critical music editions for scholars and performers since 1967. For more information, visit our website at www.areditions.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marketing Coordinator, A-R Editions
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IMBA Rosenberg Scholarship Award
The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Foundation has established the Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholarship Award to recognize developing academic scholars who are presenting and publishing original scholarly research on bluegrass music.
An honorarium of $500 plus registration at the IBMA Business Conference in Raleigh, NC September 24–28, 2019 will be awarded to the winner. A Special Award Committee, consisting of three qualified academics—persons who are or have been faculty members with experience in teaching and supervising graduate student research, and who are familiar with bluegrass music research—will oversee the selection process. Dr. Travis Stimeling (West Virginia University) will chair the 2019–2020 Special Award Committee.
Scholars currently enrolled in MA or PhD programs, as well as recent PhDs (within five years of degree completion), are encouraged to submit their work, as well as documentation of its appearance on an academic program or in an academic journal, to Travis Stimeling at email@example.com. Eligible work must be published or presented between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019. Submissions must be received by midnight EDT on June 1, 2019. International submissions are encouraged, but they must be translated into English to be considered for this award.
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SAM members Ryan Ebright, Annegret Fauser, and Howard Pollack were winners of 50th annual ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards. Ebright (former layout editor and incoming general editor of this newsletter) won an award for his article “‘My Answer to What Music Theatre Can Be’: Iconoclasm and Entrepreneurship in Steve Reich and Beryl Korot’s The Cave,” published in American Music by University of Illinois Press. Fauser won the Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism in the concert music field for her work, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, published by Oxford University Press. Pollack won the Timothy White Award for Outstanding Music Biography in the pop music field for his work The Ballad of John Latouche: An American Lyricist’s Life and Work, published by Oxford University Press.
Several SAM members won awards at the November meeting of the American Musicological Society. The Palisca Award for best edition or translation was awarded to Michael Ochs for Joseph Rumshinsky: Di goldene kale. Nancy Yunhwa Rao won the Music in American Culture Award for outstanding scholarship in music of the United States for her 2017 monograph Chinatown Opera Theatre in North America (University of Illinois Press). The RIPM/Cohen Award for outstanding scholarship related to periodical publications went to Douglas Shadle’s Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise (Oxford). Last, but not least, Marta Robertson received the Judy Tsou Critical Race Studies Award (named for a beloved former SAM president) for her article “Ballad for Incarcerated Americans: Second Generation Japanese American Musicking in World War II Camps.” Robertson’s award-winning article appeared in the August 2017 issue of JSAM.
The American Music Recordings Archive (AMRA) is pleased to announce a new series of multimedia discs. Titled American Composers Special Collection (ACSC), this series is designed to focus on one composer and one of their major works. The first composer to be featured is Aaron Copland, and to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of Appalachian Spring, there is a focus on that work and especially the Shaker dance song he arranged, “Simple Gifts.” There is also information about Copland’s film music. The highlight of this disc is a lengthy audio conversation with Copland by musicologist Roger Lee Hall. The second composer featured is less well known, Edwin Arthur Jones (1853–1911). A highly regarded Massachusetts composer, his major work is featured: Song of Our Saviour, a cantata for soloists, chorus, orchestra and organ. This disc also includes an audio conversation with several women about the life and music of E.A. Jones, as he was best known. AMRA invites scholars who wish to participate in this continuing series to write with specific details about an American composer and one of their major works. Include audio files. See the AMRA webpage for details.
Oxford University Press has published Douglas Bomberger’s new book, Making Music American: 1917 and the Transformation of Culture. Using the methods of narrative nonfiction, Bomberger traces the lives of eight musicians from diverse backgrounds through the tumultuous year of 1917, when the United States entered World War I and the American public heard jazz recordings for the first time. The confluence of events in popular, classical, and military music lends new insights into the changes in cultural life that made this seminal year crucial to the development of music in the United States. Blog posts on the OUP website offer a timeline of the year’s major events as well as a playlist of recordings from 1917.
January 10, 2019 saw the official unveiling of the new replica of George Washington’s 1793 Longman & Broderip two-manual harpsichord just completed by John R. Watson of Williamsburg, Virginia. It’s been a fascinating two-year process, and the results of restoring and stabilizing the old one will be presented at a two-day symposium at Mount Vernon this coming August. SAM member David Hildebrand, Director of the Colonial Music Institute, offered the first public performances at the Washington Antiques Show on January 10 at American University for a noon-time press event and evening private reception. Visit this site for more details.
| The original 1793 Longman & Broderip
harpsichord, commissioned by
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Remembrance: Kate Van Winkle Keller (1937–2018)
Katherine K. Preston and David K. Hildebrand
I was shocked and saddened at the news that the Society for American Music has lost one of its founding members and an important scholar of early American music. Kate Van Winkle Keller, who died on December 11, 2018 at the age of 81, was a major contributor not only to American music scholarship, but also to our Society: she was an early member of the Board of Trustees, and from 1977 to 2000 served as our first Executive Director. In 1995 she was the recipient of the Society’s Distinguished Service Citation, and in 2011 the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kitty (as she was known) was a pioneer in the creation of databases of information about music and musicians culled from large bodies of primary documents. She worked with Raoul Camus and Carolyn Rabson to produce the National Tune Index (1980), which is now known as Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources, 1589–1839: An Index, and in 1997 completed (in collaboration with Mary Jane Corry and her husband Robert Keller) The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers, 1690–1783. Both are online and represent extraordinarily valuable tools for research into early American music history. Her magnum opus, however, is Dance and Its Music in America, 1528–1789 (2007), an authoritative compendium of the history of dance and dance music in North America from the time of European contact through almost the end of the eighteenth century. She also wrote many articles and chapters on the topic and was a force to be reckoned with in the scholarship of both music (in general) and music for dance (in particular) in early America.
But I remember Kitty most as an ebullient presence, even upon first meeting her in 1980 when, as a master’s degree student, I joined the Sonneck Society (as SAM was then known). She was warm, welcoming, knowledgeable, and a perfect embodiment of what the Society stood (and stands) for: collegiality, encouragement, support, and passion for the history of American music. I worked closely with Kitty for several decades, as a member or chair of various committees, when I was on the Board of Trustees, and later while I was Secretary of the Society. I had her telephone number on my phone’s speed dial, for I knew that I could always call her up to ask questions. She was inevitably cheerful and enthusiastic when I called, and we would catch up on each other’s lives, as friends and colleagues do, before turning to my questions—for which she usually had the answers. I also chaired the search committee tasked with hiring her successor, which helped to reinforce my understanding of what a major contributor she had been to the Society for so many years.
Kitty was still energetic, enthusiastic, and cheerful when I last visited her about two years ago. She was also still thoroughly engaged in scholarship and, over lunch, described with excitement her various ongoing projects. The Society for American Music owes a great deal to Kate Van Winkle Keller and should be forever grateful to her. Those of us who knew her will never forget her. Our sincere condolences to her husband, Bob, and to their two daughters Margaret and Anne.
Katherine K. Preston
Past President, Society for American Music
Adult role models are EVERYTHING to the aspiring young people lucky enough to meet and keep them. Especially when they, like Kitty, inspire those they inspire in turn to carry the torch. It is a wonderful system. We should all emulate Kitty in helping, sharing, and encouraging others to embrace their chosen fields. And beyond studying, preserving, and spreading the word about something, she also taught many of us to have fun along the way (oh, yes, but be sure to leave a fully-documented scholarly trail behind, with complete footnotes . . . based upon primary sources as much as possible).
Kitty always brought sincere excitement and enthusiasm to the projects upon which we collaborated, always following her very most exacting of standards. These included book/CD co-publications of George Washington: Music for the First President (1999), Music in the Life of Benjamin Franklin (2006), and Music of the War of 1812 in America (2011). It was on the way to my house near Annapolis for a planning meeting in 1998 that she and Bob came up with the idea for the Colonial Music Institute. Within an hour of their arrival tasks were assigned as together we laid out the framework for the website that would embody her ambitions—making available online critical research resources, such as those mentioned above by Katherine Preston, and posting FAQs, teachers’ guides, and essays on a variety of topics pertaining to early American music and dance. The Colonial Music Institute would go on to publish many of the other books Kitty wrote over the next seventeen years. Her last publication, of which she was deservedly proud, was issued by the Willard House & Clock Museum in 2017 and co-authored with Gary R. Sullivan, in two volumes: Musical Clocks of Early America, 1730-1830: A Catalogue Raisoneé.
I first met Kitty at the Sonneck Society conference in Pittsburgh in 1987, and I vividly remember walking into the room where she, Susan Porter, Cynthia Hoover and probably Raoul Camus and the rest of the colonial contingent were gathered talking enthusiastically. Along with these others, Kitty greeted me with such open arms. Down through the years she and Bob helped, aided, encouraged, supported, and otherwise cheered my wife and me on in our own separate projects as well as those we did together. Sitting on my dissertation committee, she was extremely helpful and insightful (and critical, of course!). She was not a paid faculty member at Catholic University, by the way, but did it out of her sense of dedication to the field. I am so grateful for that sincere concern for facts and details shown then and a hundred other times besides. In early 2001, knowing that we were preparing to leave for Austria to give a concert there, she said to my wife Ginger something like: “If you’re playing in Europe, you know you need a new dress!” So she promptly commenced sewing a gorgeous blue eighteenth-century gown that was worn then and often since with tremendous pride. Here’s just one reason Ginger and I soon came to call her our “fairy godmother of colonial music.”
She choreographed the film Last of the Mohicans (1992) and was revered in the historic dance community, being named Honorary Member of the Country Dance and Song Society in 1993. Kitty completed the monumental work begun by the late Art Shrader culminating in the Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads. She also was elected to membership in the American Antiquarian Society, loved to watch birds, and had a hearty if not guttural laugh. There are sixty-three entries in her bibliography of books, articles, and consultancies. Her academic achievements were mirrored in her community life—publishing a history of Fox Hill Village, where she and Bob retired, singing in several choirs, directing the handbells at her church, gardening, and as long as she could do so, country dancing.
If I can close in the collective “we”—those of us involved in research, education, performance and especially mentoring—we thank Kate Van Winkle Keller for so many years spent contributing to her chosen fields and supporting and encouraging us along the way as well. We will keep remembering and being inspired by Kitty’s work and spirit, often and for a very long time to come.
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Remembrance: Randy Weston (1926–2018)
Ellie M. Hisama
In African Rhythms, his 2010 autobiography written with Willard Jenkins, the eminent composer, pianist, and bandleader Randy Weston reflects that he writes and plays music that celebrates the spirits of the ancestors. On September 1, 2018, at the age of 92, Weston joined the ancestors. In his homegoing service on September 10 at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York, an international community of musicians, family members, and friends honored Weston’s extraordinary life through a series of tribute performances and touching recollections.
The poet Langston Hughes observed: “When Randy Weston plays, a combination of strength and gentleness, virility and velvet, emerges from the keys in an ebb and flow of sound seemingly as natural as the waves of the sea.” Luminous and delicate, playful and introspective, powerful and heady in turn, Weston’s playing transports and bridges listeners across time and space, bringing African music in animated conversation with music traditions around the world.
In African Rhythms and Robin D.G. Kelley’s 2012 volume Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times, we learn that Weston was born in Brooklyn in 1926 and was raised by his mother from Virginia and his father from Panama. Under his mother’s guidance, Weston forged a lifelong link to the black church, a connection that became a significant part of his music. A critical lesson imparted by his father was that he was an African who was born in America, and Weston’s childhood home was filled with images and writings about Africa that counteracted the racist images circulating in the Tarzan and Stepin Fetchit films and other forms of popular culture in the 1930s and 1940s.
Growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Weston listened avidly to many kinds of music—calypso, jazz, gospel, and African American spirituals. Hearing the ancestors while listening with a modernist ear, Weston was deeply influenced by Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, George Russell, and many others who were exploring new musical landscapes. He worked with luminaries in the literary world including Langston Hughes and Jayne Cortez, and also listened to neoclassical and atonal/serial composers including Stravinsky and Berg. As Weston told Nat Hentoff in 1964, Max Roach introduced him to Berg’s music, and Berg’s way of writing fascinated him.
The 1950s was a difficult period for Weston; many of his friends were incarcerated or dying. After he saw firsthand how the drug trade was destroying the black community, he left Brooklyn for the Berkshires at the suggestion of a friend. At a resort near Great Barrington, Massachusetts, he worked as a handyman and cook by day and played the resort’s pianos at night. His playing sparked interest in some of the resort’s guests who invited him to play a concert. At the famed Music Inn in Lenox, Weston met jazz scholar Marshall Stearns, whose archive would seed the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University at Newark. Stearns regularly led roundtable discussions about jazz history in a lecture series, where Weston met Babatunde Olatunji, Geoffrey Holder, Candido, and Dr. Willis James. From Stearns, Weston learned about the origins of jazz in West Africa and with Weston illustrating at the piano, they presented lively lectures on the history of jazz.
Weston’s landmark album Uhuru Afrika (1960) for big band, a suite celebrating freedom and independence movements in Africa, was a collaborative project with the brilliant arranger and trombonist Melba Liston, with whom Weston worked extensively over many years, and Langston Hughes, who wrote lyrics and the liner notes and recited on the recording. In Kelley’s words, Uhuru Afrika “celebrated the bonds between Africans and the African diaspora—past, present, and future.” Weston’s dazzling musical contributions over seven decades included some fifty albums such as Little Niles (1958), Music from the New African Nations Featuring the Highlife (1963), Blue Moses (1972), African Rhythms (1975), The Spirits of Our Ancestors (1991), and The Splendid Master Gnawa Musicians of Morocco (1992). In 1967 Weston moved to Rabat, then to Tangier where he opened an important cultural center called the African Rhythms Club. For five years he worked in Morocco with musicians known as the Gnawa M’Alem (master healers), bringing together African and African American musical elements and ideas before he returned to New York.
The recipient of SAM’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, Weston was recognized many times throughout his distinguished career. His honors include the Doris Duke Award, a Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, induction into ASCAP’s Jazz Wall of Fame, DownBeat Magazine’s Jazz Composer of the Year Award, and appointment as Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture. A 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship supported development of a new work, An African Nubian Suite: Randy Weston with his African Rhythms Orchestra, which was performed at New York University’s Skirball Center on Easter Sunday, 2012 and released in a two-CD set titled The African Nubian Suite (2017). The Randy Weston Collection was acquired by Harvard University in 2015–16 and is a rich resource documenting his life’s work through manuscript scores, arrangements, audio recordings, visual media, photographs, correspondence, programs, and other printed materials.
While I served as Director of the Institute for Studies in American Music (now the Hitchcock Institute) at Brooklyn College, I nominated Weston in 2006 for an honorary doctorate in music and he was selected. Commencement was a moving occasion which also marked his return to the Midwood campus seven decades after his first visit there. In African Rhythms, he recalls: “I remember when I was ten years old [my mother] worked as a domestic making about $15 a week. I wanted to help her so much and I insisted on giving her money when I could. She got me a little job passing out fliers at Brooklyn College. So during the ceremony my mind flashed back to that time, and I sure wished my mama could have seen this . . .”
Infinitely curious and profoundly spiritual, Randy Weston gracefully straddled the past and the future, the traditional and the modern, helping to carve out in sound a future animated by hope and by love.
Author’s note: I would like to thank filmmaker Whitney George and Jeffrey Taylor, Director of the Hitchcock Institute for Studies in American Music at Brooklyn College for giving me access to the film of Randy Weston shown at SAM’s 2017 meeting in Montréal, where he received SAM’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
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The Bulletin of the Society for American Music
The Bulletin is published in the Winter (January), Spring (May), and Fall (September) by the Society for American Music. Copyright 2019 by the Society for American Music, ISSN 0196-7967.
Editor: Elizabeth Ann Lindau (Elizabeth.Lindau@csulb.edu)
Reviews Editor: Esther Morgan-Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Media Editor: Elizabeth Ozment (email@example.com)
Design and Layout: John Michael McCluskey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Items for submission should be submitted via the Bulletin‘s information page. Photographs or other graphic materials should be accompanied by captions and desired location in the text. Deadlines for submission of materials are 15 December, 15 April, and 15 August.
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