The Flood Behind Bessie Smith’s “Back-Water Blues”
The Mississippi River flood that Smith allegedly memorialized happened weeks after she'd written and released her song. Where was the real “Back Water”?
Keeping Scores: Unearthing the Works of Black Women Composers
Black women composers have been active in the US since at least the mid-nineteenth century, yet they’re largely omitted from scholarship on women musicians.
Good Times With Bad Music
We've all got our tastes, but can anyone really define what makes music “good” or “bad”?
The Scholars Charting Black Music’s Timeline: Douglas Henry Daniels & Paul Austerlitz
Daniels and Austerlitz tell the story of jazz, from its origins in the blues, gospel, and funk to its impact on music around the world.
Far From Folsom Prison: More to Music Inside
Johnny Cash wasn't the only superstar to play in prisons. Music, initially allowed as worship, came to be seen as a rockin' tool of rehabilitation.
This Revolution Will Be Amplified
From Lil Nas X to Valerie June to Darius Rucker, Black musicians are staking their claim in country music. Francesca T. Royster explains.
Desperately Seeking Taylor Swift
The lyrics, the music, and the metaphors of the pop star of the moment.
The Scholars Charting Black Music’s Timeline: Tammy Kernodle & Stephanie Shonekan
Kernodle and Shonekan explore the contributions of Black Americans to classical music and the importance of music and song for social justice movements.
Happy Birthday, Well-Tempered Clavier
Bach’s most influential pedagogical work turns 300 this year. But what’s so “well-tempered” about this clavier, and what’s a “clavier,” anyway?
We’re Going to Need a Bigger Note
Song sharks have been a problem for aspiring lyricists nearly as long as there’s been a music industry.