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Thursday, April 20 • 5:15pm - 7:15pm
Early 20th Century Sweet and Hot

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The politics of popular music performance lie in the details—how a singer utters a phrase with just the right amount of breathiness, transforming a trite lyric into a seductive power play; how a voice might sound “in between” masculine and feminine, stirring fears of gender crisis; how a band works a crowd into a dancing frenzy and in the process lays claim to public space that would otherwise be off limits. This panel explores the politics of pop performance during the early twentieth century, a period of major transformation along several fronts. Female artists were carving out new space for the expression of desire, while “crooning” male artists found that softening their voice and image brought both mass acceptance and derision. The declining (but not disappearing) influence of blackface signaled that racial boundaries were being redrawn, and the emergence of ragtime, jazz, and blues carried African American music to new levels of cultural awareness. Changes in media, in turn, shifted the very nature of pop performance, as the expanding reach of sound recordings, radio, and film supplemented voices and bodies on the stage.

Steve Waksman, “I Heard Buddy Bolden Say: Social Clubs and Musical Rivalries in New Orleans”
Lauren Sklaroff, “Sophie Tucker and Complexity of Live Performance”
Jody Rosen, “All My Life Is Just Despair: Torch Songs, Fallen Women, and the Politics of Degradation”
Allison McCracken, “Bobby Breen and the Cultural Work of the Boy Soprano”

avatar for Daniel Goldmark

Daniel Goldmark

Daniel Goldmark is Professor of Music and directs the Center for Popular Music Studies at Case Western Reserve University. He is series editor of the Oxford Music/Media Series, and is the author and/or editor of several books on animation, film, and music. Goldmark also worked as an archivist and music coordinator at... Read More →

avatar for Allison McCracken

Allison McCracken

Twitter | | Allison McCracken is Associate Professor of American Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, and specializes in media studies, gender/sexuality studies, and American cultural history. She is the author of Real Men Don't Sing: Crooning in American Culture (Duke, 2015), and she has also written about U.S. media voices in American Music, the anthologies Soundtrack Available and The Radio Reader, and the online media journal Antenna... Read More →
avatar for Jody Rosen

Jody Rosen

Twitter | | Jody Rosen is writer at The New York Times Magazine. He was previously critic-at-large for T: The New York Times Style Magazine, the music critic for New York, Slate, and The Nation, and a senior critic at Rolling Stone. His new book, Two Wheels Good: A Bicycle History of the World, will be published by Crown in 2018... Read More →
avatar for Lauren Sklaroff

Lauren Sklaroff

Twitter | | Lauren Sklaroff is Associate Professor of History at the University of South Carolina, specializing in the History of Popular Culture and American Race Relations. She is now completing her second book, the first in-depth biography of Sophie Tucker entitled Wanting to Be Wanted: Sophie Tucker and the Creation of a Show Business Legend. Her first book, Black Culture and the New Deal: The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era (2009), explored federal cultural programming involving African Americans in the 1930s and 1940s... Read More →
avatar for Steve Waksman

Steve Waksman

Steve Waksman is Professor of Music and Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Professor of American Studies at Smith College. His publications include the books Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience (1999) and This Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk (2009). Currently, he is writing a new book on the cultural history of live music and performance in the U.S., tentatively titled, Live Music in America: A History, 1850-2000... Read More →

Thursday April 20, 2017 5:15pm - 7:15pm
JBL Theater MoPOP, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109