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Friday, April 21 • 9:00am - 11:00am

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On this 50th anniversary year of the Detroit Riots, our panel returns to one of the most visible and vexed interplays of American music and politics: Motown. Rather than reproduce the well-trod narratives of Motown’s ambivalent relationship to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, this conversation seeks to understand Motown’s politics from its margins—the “small” voice of Diana Ross, the role that gospel played in ushering in its pop aesthetic, the impact of its black girl groups as they “invaded” Britain, and its one-off album by Martin Luther King. By foregrounding those moments in which the label either explicitly tied itself to or seemingly skirted around the edges of radical politics, we will reconsider what we actually mean by the “Motown sound,” and the role played by gender and genre in helping the label navigate the changing sound technologies and social movements of the 60s and early 70s.

Salamishah Tillet, “‘Since it was His Artistry and Performance’: MLK and Motown’s Commercial Civil Rights Sound”
Guthrie Ramsey, “Detroit Virtuosity and Motown’s Aesthetics of Integration”
Emily Lordi, “‘Love Child’: Diana Ross and the ‘Small’ Black Female Voice”
Gayle Wald, “Nowhere to Run: Girl Group Transnationalism”

avatar for Jack Hamilton

Jack Hamilton

Twitter | | Jack Hamilton teaches in the departments of American Studies and Media Studies at the University of Virginia and is the author of Just around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination (Harvard University Press, 2016). He is also the pop critic for Slate magazine, where he writes about music, sports, and other areas of culture. He is currently working on a cultural history of inhuman musical instruments since 1970... Read More →

avatar for Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr.

Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr.

Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. is the author of Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop, The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History and the Challenge of Bebop and African American Music: Grove Music Essentials (Kindle Edition). As the leader of the band Dr. Guy’s MusiQology, he has released three CDs (Y the Q, The Colored Waiting Room and B Eclectic) and is editor and founder of the blog musiqology.com... Read More →
avatar for Emily Lordi

Emily Lordi

Twitter | | Emily J. Lordi is the author of Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature (2013) and a 33 1/3 book on Donny Hathaway Live (2016). Her music and book reviews have appeared on such sites as Slate, The Root, The Fader, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She is an associate professor of English at UMass-Amherst... Read More →
avatar for Salamishah Tillet

Salamishah Tillet

Twitter | | Salamishah Tillet is an associate professor of English and Africana Studies and a faculty member of the Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Pennsylvania. She has appeared on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and PBS, and in Ebony and Essence, published articles with The Atlantic.com, Elle, The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, The Nation, The Root, Time.com, and regularly contributes to the New York Times. She is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination and is currently working on a book on the civil rights icon, Nina Simone... Read More →
avatar for Gayle Wald

Gayle Wald

Twitter | | Gayle Wald is chair of American studies at George Washington University. She is author of It's Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power Television (Duke UP, 2015), about the pioneering TV showcase of black arts culture and politics. Shout, Sister, Shout!, a musical theater adaptation of her 2007 biography of Rosetta Tharpe, directed and produced by Randy Johnson with book by Cheryl L. West, opens in spring 2017 at Pasadena Playhouse. Gayle is a co-editor of Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series... Read More →

Friday April 21, 2017 9:00am - 11:00am
JBL Theater MoPOP, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109