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African American Studies Program to Present "Unscripted: Two Events Celebrating Story and Song"

Publication Date: 3/1/2010

The African American Studies Program at Rhodes College will present two programs in March focusing on literary and musical contributions by African Americans with consideration of the historical, sociological and political contexts from which their works and stories have been drawn. 

On March 9, noted essayist and American culture critic Dr. Gerald Early will present “The Art of Anthologizing African American Literature.” Free and open to the public, the lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the McCallum Ballroom of the Bryan Campus Life Center. A question and answer period will follow Early’s presentation.

Currently the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and Director of the Center for the Humanities at Washington University, Early has edited recent anthologies--Best African American Essays 2009 and Best African American Fiction 2009--both published by Bantam Books.

Best African American Fiction 2009 features fiction by some of today’s writers including Edward P. Jones, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Walter Dean Myers and ZZ Packer. Subjects are as diverse as a jazz musician’s search for a woman in a photo to indentured servitude in colonial New York to child rearing in Nigeria.
 
Best African American Essays 2009 focuses on subjects including love, war, politics and music. The previously published essays have appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, and National Geographic.

Early’s lecture at Rhodes is part of the African American Studies Program’s focus this year on the African American aesthetic including, but not limited to, literature, language, art and music.  

Early has published extensively on the subject of music including works about Motown, Miles Davis, and Sammy Davis Jr., and he served as a consultant on Ken Burns’ jazz documentary that aired on PBS. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Early also has been a commentator on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

 

On March 22, the exploration of the African American aesthetic will continue with a panel discussion about the origins and evolution of blues and jazz with emphasis on the storytelling of blues and the improvisation of jazz. Free and open to the public, the event begins at 4:30 p.m. in the McCallum Ballroom of the Bryan Campus Life Center.

Panelists include Di Anne Price, Memphis blues and jazz musician and storyteller; Dr. John Bass, director of the Rhodes Jazz Ensemble; Dr. Bill Lawson, professor of African American philosophy at The University of Memphis; Dr. Melvin Butler, ethnomusicologist at the University of Chicago with interests in music and religious practice in Haitian, Jamaican, and African American communities; Dr. Paul Steinbeck, bassist, improviser and composer at the University of Chicago; and other local artists on the Memphis music/jazz scene. The panelists will give demonstrations, and the audience will be invited to participate through commentary and a question and answer period.

After the discussion, there will be a reception and performance by the Rhodes Jazz Ensemble.

Then at 7 p.m., panelists will return to present a concert in the McCallum Ballroom of the Bryan Campus Life Center.

Events are funded by the Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes. Those with specific inquiries can contact Candice Ivory at (773) 577-9655 and candiceivory@yahoo.com or Luther Ivory, director of the Rhodes African American Studies Program, at (901) 843-3262.

 

Tags: Arts/Performances, Events, Lectures

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