Re/Sounding the Black Music Archive


Especially in light of the digital revolution and the so-called crises in the humanities and higher education generally, calls to re/animate and or re/activate the archive have recently come forth from a broadly interdisciplinary range of scholars and theorists. This project, which comes out of my experience as executive director of the Center for Black Music Research, would explore realities and specificities involved with the re/animation and re/activation of a culturally specific music archive. If, for example, as archives theorist Antoinette Burton notes, “all archives come into being in and as history as a result of specific political, cultural, and socioeconomic pressures—pressures which leave traces and which render archives themselves artifacts of history,*” then how might differently situated publics, constituencies, and communities acknowledge, promote, and steward the counter-histories in and of the culturally-specific archive while simultaneously amplifying and innovating around the archive’s connection to contemporary (political and creative) conversations?.

This project was made possible by the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University which generously hosted me as a Visiting Fellow Fall 2012.

The rethinking and research I did as a JNBC fellow has resulted in two new projects:
Re/Sounding Black Chicago, a course I designed and taught spring 2014


Free/Phase a multimedia installation conceived in collaboration with artists Mendi and Keith Obadike. Free/Phase will be installed in Chicago in Spring and Fall of 2015. Stay tuned!

Update, June 2016: Free/Phase has now been successfully installed at the CBMR and the Rebuild Foundation’s Stoney Island Arts Bank.


Diversity Dinnersdiversity dinner

May 12, 2014, the Chicago Community Trust celebrated its 100th anniversary with a large scale event called On The Table ( Individuals and institutions across the city hosted meals to brainstorm ways of building community in Chicago. As a former CCT fellow, I was invited to host a meal; my theme was “Building Community by Doing Diversity Better in Institutions of Higher Learning”—with a focus on Columbia College. Dinner guests (limited to 10 because of my “cozy” apartment) included students, full and part time faculty, staff, an advisor, a curator, a department chair and a dean. The group generated numerous ideas, insights and questions.
While there are probably already diversity committees, subgroups, and initiatives, many of us agreed that it was useful to have a regular, off-campus space in which to discuss the many and multifaceted  issues relating to diversity, representation, and inclusion at Columbia and in Higher Ed.
So began the experiment.
Diversity Dinners
Second Mondays (ongoing unless otherwise noted)
5622 N. Glenwood Ave #2 (at Bryn Mawr)
  • Strict RSVP by EOB the Friday before
  • Include dietary restrictions in RSVP; I will do my best to accommodate
  • I’ll cap the list for each dinner  at 8 people
  • If there’s no interest on a particular date, we’ll try again the next month. If there’s no interest at all, then everyone will miss out on cake.