About me, then.

Nov 1, 2015 | Uncategorized

While I have moved into a new phase of my strange life, I am, still, who I was. This post serves only to archive my “old” bio for that small handful of folks interested.


About Me (Then. But some of it still now.)

I currently serve as executive director of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago [this was from 2007-2015]. Before joining the CBMR, I worked with David Bury and Associates, a New York firm specializing in fundraising and development for arts organizations.

I hold a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from New York University and my dissertation is titled “The Wrong Place for the Right People: Gender, Race, and Jazz at Cafe Society.” It utilizes black feminist theory and practice theory to examine the politics of performance within the frame of the Popular Front and New York jazz culture in the 1930s and 40s. I am currently mining the dissertation for a book project.

Broadly speaking, I am interested in black expressive culture, the African American vernacular, and the infrastructural issues and challenges that face artists and scholars of color. I am also interested in environmental and cultural soundscapes, space and place. I explore these through various and intersecting professional avenues including research, programming, administration and development.

I am interested—to paraphrase Kathleen Fitzpatrick (who in turn is quoting Donald Hall)—in applying the critical and analytical skills that we [as arts and humanities scholars] bring to our subject matter to an examination of our institutional practices and to the ‘textuality of our own profession, its scripts, values, biases, and behavioral norms’ (Fitzpatrick, Planned Obsolescence, 2011; Kindle edition). In other words, I think about and research institutional and organizational models, seek to learn how to make institutional systems work better, and passionately work for increased institutional relevance, diversity, and openness. Since I work at the intersection of scholarship and arts administration, interests here include (among other topics): scholarly communication, democratic knowledge production and dissemination, institutional diversity, arts integration in higher ed, open access, the 21st century archive, collaborative models, canon displacement, creative place making, and alternative and sustainable arts economies.

You can view my CV here.

About A Whistling Girl

Certainly I will write here about the issues above (and more), ideas, thoughts, and experiences related to my work as an arts thinker and scholar-practitioner. I also mean for this website to serve as a kind of experimental space for me as I learn how to:

  • Write more regularly and spontaneously
  • Share ideas and thoughts more freely and often
  • Build and explore new personal, collaborative, and  technologically infused models for creating and sharing work
  • Make practical connections between the digital, the scholarly, and arts administration and practice
  • Curate resources and information that may be of use or interest to others
  • Become a more engaged member of communities in which I am interested and invested

It is a work in progress in other words.

Why A Whistling Girl?

My online moniker has been whistling girl for a while now. There is an old expression about whistling girls—Scottish maybe—that goes: “A whistling girl and a crowing hen are neither fit for God nor men.” There are multiple versions of the expression but the idea is basically that whistling is an unnatural, improper behavior for women. This particular example is pretty laughable now, but the urge to delimit the behavior of women lives on. What if Melba Liston had listened to all the people who told her that girls don’t play trombone?!

The “girl” in A Whistling Girl goes against certain of my feminist urges but reminds me to cultivate a strong sense of play.

Finally, as a close, active listener and one interested in soundscapes, I just appreciate the unmediated informality and the ephemerality implied by the idea of a whistling girl. Chances are, a whistling girl is a happy girl, a free girl, and yes, quite possibly a troublemaker. I’m learning how to do that better too.


2012 Featured on the WFMT Production Blog with Matt DeStefano speaking about Chicago’s 175th, the World’s Fair, Roland Hayes and Florence Price at the CBMR: Black Music at the Chicago World’s Fair

2012 BlackAmericaWeb.com’s Nia Ngina Meeks asks “Who’s Making Golden Oldies Now?”

2012  Interview with Marion Brooks on NBC’s “The Talk” on Feb. 8, regarding Don Cornelius and his impact on black music in Chicago: The Talk

2012 WVON-AM radio interview segment with Cliff Kelley about Don Cornelius

2010 Chicago Works Television profiles the Center for Black Music Research

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