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2012 Charles Seeger Lecturer: Portia K. Maultsby
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When SEM meets this November in New Orleans with the American Musicological Society and the Society for Music Theory, our Charles Seeger Lecture will be presented by Portia K. Maultsby, the Laura Boulten Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and Founding Director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture (AAAMC) at Indiana University, Bloomington. The title of her Seeger Lecture is "‘Everybody Wanna Sing My Blues...Nobody Wanna Live My Blues’: Deconstructing Narratives of Race, Culture and Power in African American Music Scholarship.”

Dr. Maultsby has made significant contributions to the field and beyond in the areas of popular music, the music industry, African American music, and public ethnomusicology. Recognized for her advancement of music, continuity and change via the processes of syncretism and reinterpretation, Dr. Maultsby’s research and publications in this regard have centered on African American religious and popular music and its global impact and intersections. She is co-editor of African American Music: An Introduction (Routledge Press, 2006) and is currently writing a book titled From the Margins to the Mainstream: African American Popular Music (1945-2000). Other publications have appeared in numerous American and European journals, edited volumes, and as essays in music trade publications including Billboard and Rolling Stone.

In the area of public ethnomusicology, Dr. Maultsby has served as a researcher, curator, designer, and consulting scholar for museum exhibitions, film and radio productions. Among these include Black American Popular Music: Rhythm & Blues 1945-1955 (Museum for American Culture/Smithsonian Institution); Wade in the Water, a 26-part series on Black gospel (National Public Radio/Smithsonian Institution); Something in the Water: Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews [with Mark Slobin] (Jewish Museum of New York); The Sweet Flavor of Dayton Street Funk (The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Wilberforce, OH); That Rhythm ... Those Blues produced by George Nierenburg; and Record Row: The Cradle of Rhythm and Blues, produced Mike McAlpin for PBS. Dr. Maultsby has served as music editor for the award-winning documentary Eyes on the Prize II, produced by Blackside Productions for PBS and has appeared in Record Row and "Southern Soul,” program four of the BBC documentary series Soul Deep: The Story of Black Popular Music. Finally, her chart "The Evolution of African American Music” from the co-edited volume African American Music: An Introduction, became the basis of an interactive website for Honor! Festival Celebrating American Cultural Legacy, (curated by Jessye Norman and presented by Carnegie Hall, 2009).

With such an eminent presence in the area of African American music studies, Dr. Maultsby has lectured on these topics throughout the US, and in Russia, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Malawi, England, Norway, and the Netherlands. Significantly, she is the recipient of many distinguished honors and awards such as the Belle van Zuylen Professor of African American Music in the Department of Musicology at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and her appointment as senior scholar in residence at the Smithsonian Institution/Museum of American History. She has also been the recipient of several grants and fellowships, including research fellowships awarded by the Indiana Committee for the Humanities and by the Ford Foundation and the National Research Council.

Her contributions to SEM are varied: Guest Editor for a special issue on Black Music in Ethnomusicology, Volume 19(3), former chair of the SEM Council, a former member of the Board of Directors, and a current member of the SEM Sound Future Campaign Committee. She is an Executive Board Member for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (U.S.A. Branch) and currently serves on their Editorial Board (International Body and the U.S.A. Branch). Dr. Maultsby studied at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Mount St. Scholastica College, Atchison in Kansas, and University of Salzburg in Salzburg, Austria.

SEM is very fortunate to have a dynamic scholar and speaker as Portia K. Maultsby, whose research neatly dovetails with all three societies at this year’s annual meeting in New Orleans. Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!


- Cheryl L. Keyes

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