Black Vocality 2014

November 18-19, 2014 Columbia College Chicago

Black Vocality: Cultural Memory, Identities, and Practices of African-American Singing Styles

The symposium Black Vocality II will nurture a discussion – among scholars, singers, and vocal performers – on the ways in which singing voices have shaped, defined, chronicled, and continuously recontextualized the black experience.

As popular music scholar Simon Frith explains, “we have to approach the voice under four headings: as a musical instrument, as a body, as a person, as a character.” The symposium takes in consideration these four headings, but at the same time recognizes the importance to look at the intersections of them. Listening to Lou Rawls’ voice, for instance, means to be exposed to a sound that is simultaneously an instrument, a body, a person, and a character. In addition, in order to fully comprehend interrelations among cultural memory, identities and practices, we need to examine the kind of narratives that have shaped our understanding of black vocality. Questions that the symposium addresses are: ‘how do we listen to a singing voice that is defined as black?’, ‘how blackness is recognized and expressed through singing voices?’, and ‘what are the values and the potential of a black singing voice?’


Black Vocality II – Poster
Black Vocality II – Program