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Saturday, April 22 • 11:15am - 12:45pm
Soul Politics in the 21st Century

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Since its emergence, soul has remained central to the musical manifestations of Black politics. In its early heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, it served as both symbol and mechanism of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and structured accompanying discussions of class, gender, region and sexuality. Since then, soul has held a treasured yet debated place in the longer history of Black creative genius and cultural resistance. It remains a powerful demonstration of the larger transformations that it accompanied and provoked, but also sometimes symbolizes a supposed degeneracy and downfall (with cries of “who stole the soul?”) that occurred in subsequent decades. Fifty years after its emergence, it seems an opportune moment to assess soul music—of both past and present—in the cultural politics of our tempestuous current moment.
In this roundtable, panelists will offer thoughts on this key and complex question, considering the multivalent, shifting and contested role of soul music and its attendant symbolism in a contemporary context. How do soul legacies inform (and also perhaps distort) understandings of our contemporary moment? How do contemporary soul (or soul-influenced) artists and audiences reimagine, remix, or resist these legacies? Is the declaration of “soul” by contemporary artists like D'Angelo, Anthony Hamilton, or Jazmine Sullivan an attempt to recover a previous era or is it part of an unbroken continuum? Conversely, what is the symbolic status and meaning of Stevie Wonder’s recent Songs in the Key of Life tour or Aretha Franklin’s performance of "Natural Woman" at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors? Are these throwbacks, reminders, something new, or something else? What are the liberating possibilities of soul in the era of #BlackLivesMatter and “post-hip-hop” sonic experimentation? What are its limitations? Considering a variety of expressions and experiences, the participants will explore these and other topics in both contemporary and historical perspective.

Moderators
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 →

Speakers
avatar for I. Augustus Durham

I. Augustus Durham

Twitter | | I. Augustus Durham is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in English at Duke University. His dissertation—“Stay Black and Die: On Melancholy and Genius”—spans the 19th century to the contemporary moment, examining the constitution of melancholy in black studies, and how the affect catalyzes genius. He has published articles in Black Camera: An International Film Journal (forthcoming); Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International; and Journal of Religion and Health. | | Roundtable: Soul Politics in the 21st Century | Since its emergence, soul has remained central to the musical manifestations of Black politics. In its early heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, it served as both symbol and mechanism of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and structured accompanying discussions of class, gender, region and sexuality. Since then, soul has held a treasured yet debated place in the longer history of Black creative genius and cultural resistance. It remains a powerful demonstration of the larger transformations that it accompanied and provoked, but also sometimes symbolizes a supposed degeneracy and downfall (with cries of... Read More →
avatar for Fredara Mareva Hadley

Fredara Mareva Hadley

Fredara Mareva Hadley is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Ethnomusicology at Oberlin College specializing in African American music and popular music. Hadley has presented work at numerous major conferences and been published in the Encyclopedia of African American Music, Okayplayer, and Urb magazine. In addition to her research, Hadley founded Jooksi, a company that provides music education classes for the public, and music-based walking tours of New York City. | | Roundtable: Trap... Read More →
CL

Charles L. Hughes

Twitter | | Charles L. Hughes is the Director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College. His first book, Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South, was released in 2015 by the University North Carolina Press. He has spoken and published widely on race, music, and American History. He is also a musician and songwriter. | | Roundtable: Soul Politics in the 21st Century | Since its emergence, soul has remained central to the musical manifestations of Black politics. In its early heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, it served as both symbol and mechanism of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and structured accompanying discussions of class, gender, region and sexuality. Since then, soul has held a treasured yet debated place in the longer history of Black creative genius and cultural resistance. It remains a powerful demonstration of the larger transformations that it accompanied and provoked, but also sometimes symbolizes a supposed degeneracy and downfall (with cries of... Read More →
MA

Mark Anthony Neal

Twitter | | Mark Anthony Neal is Professor of African & African American Studies and the founding director of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship at Duke University. He is the author of several books including What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (1999), Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (2002), and Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities (2013). Neal hosts the webcast Left of Black, and tweets @NewBlackMan. | | Roundtable: Soul Politics in the 21st Century | Since its emergence, soul has remained central to the musical manifestations of Black politics. In its early heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, it served as both symbol and mechanism of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and structured accompanying discussions of class, gender, region and sexuality. Since then, soul has held a treasured yet debated place in the longer history of Black creative genius and cultural resistance. It remains a powerful demonstration of the larger transformations that it accompanied and provoked, but also sometimes symbolizes a supposed degeneracy and downfall (with cries of... Read More →


Saturday April 22, 2017 11:15am - 12:45pm
Learning Labs MoPOP, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109