Art & Culture: Who Hears Here? by Guthrie Ramsey Jr.

Who Hears Here? On Black Music, Pasts and Present (University of California Press) documents author Dr. Guthrie Ramsey’s engagement with the joys of music making and the undeniable place Black music holds in global cultures. Ramsey is a multi-hyphenate musicologist who is one of the foremost authorities on the history of African American music. Written over 25 years, these writings carry resonances of the conversations Ramsey has had in bars and hotel rooms during professional conferences, in the deliberations published in the pages of journals and blogs, and in the firestorms that occur on Twitter feeds.

Ramsey began his journey when the American Musicological Society formed its Committee on Cultural Diversity and started its work to counter sexism and racism in the early 1990s when “women, people of color, and other minoritized members were mostly absent from the organization’s power structure, including both its elected leaders and awardees of prizes and fellowships.”

The collection embraces historiography, ethnography, cultural criticism, musical analysis, and autobiography. Pulled together with the provocative introduction that precedes them are a testament to the legacy work that has come to define a field, as well as arousing a call to new readers to ask the hard questions and hard truths about this topic.

As a pianist, composer, and producer, Ramsey has released five recording projects, scored the prize-winning documentary, Making Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, and co-curated the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s 2009 exhibition, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment.”

A Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Ramsey is a music historian, pianist, and composer, and Professor of Emeritus of Music at the University of Pennsylvania. ◊

You can buy the book here.


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