Category Archives: Music

Celebrating African American Music

The following guest post was written by David Tenenholtz, the 2015-2017 UNC-CH Music Library CALA.

Celebrating African-American Music

June is African American Music Appreciation Month, as officially proclaimed by President Barack Obama. The Stone Center Library and the UNC Music Library are excited to take on President Obama’s described mission to “raise awareness and foster appreciation of music that is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans” during this month. With resources available both at the Stone Center Library and the Music Library (located at Wilson Library’s lowest level, East entrance), you will be able to learn about the varied styles and rich history of African American music. If you visit the Music Library, please take note of the visual display in the front entrance highlighting some hallmarks of this topic. You will notice albums showcasing the legendary pianistic skill of Art Tatum, the artistry of composers like Duke Ellington and T.J. Anderson, the showmanship of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae, and the vocal finesse of opera singer Jessye Norman, to name only a few.


As you can tell from reading this post, this subject may have nearly limitless avenues to explore and research. As an entry-point, please consult with one of the librarians at either the Stone Center Library or the Music Library. To get a quick start, here are introductions to four “firsts” in the history of African American music, and some links to resources that may inspire you to visit us and learn more!

1903: In Dahomey, the first Broadway musical written by African American composers, and starring an entirely African American cast, premieres in New York. You can find the sheet music and biographical information on Will Marion Cook (1869-1944), one of the major African American composers at that time at the Music Library.

1935: Jazz pianist Teddy Wilson (1912-1986) joins the Benny Goodman Trio, earning them the distinction of being the first known interracial jazz group. Wilson, deemed the “Jackie Robinson of Jazz,” would go on to record many hit jazz songs with Goodman, vocalist Billie Holiday, and as a soloist.

1962: Bandleader and composer Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington scored the soundtrack to the film Paris Blues, starring Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, and Louis Armstrong. With this score, Ellington earned the first nomination by an African American composer for an Academy Award for Best Musical Score.

1968: Henry Lewis (1932-1996), a virtuoso on the double-bass who joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic before the age of eighteen, is appointed to lead the New Jersey Symphony, making him the first African American symphony conductor. Within another few years, Lewis went on to be the first African American to conduct the Metropolitan Opera.






SCL Picks for International Jazz Day

In addition to being National Poetry Month, did you know that April is also Jazz Appreciation Month?

“April was selected by the National Museum of American History, the originator of the tribute, because so many seminal people were born this month. The list includes Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Tito Puente and Herbie Hancock.” (Source: The Washington Post)

In addition, today – April 30th – also marks the inaugural observation of International Jazz Day! Whether you’ve been celebrating all month, all year, or just for today, here’s a sampling of related books available here at the SCL:

For more online resources, keep in mind the Stone Center Library’s Guide to the Web, which includes an ample music section under the category of “Arts.” Enjoy!

New @the SCL, Part 2: The Arts!

Welcome back, faithful readers! Yesterday we posted the first of three listings of new books currently on display here at the Stone Center Library. Today’s new titles cover a wide range of the arts, including dance, film, music, and visual arts.

The Devil Finds Work (James Baldwin)

Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present (Robin R. Means Coleman)

Black Social Dance in Television Advertising: An Analytical History (Carla Stalling Huntington)

Marion D. Cuyjet and Her Judimar School of Dance: Training Black Ballerinas in Black Philadelphia 1948-1971 (Melanye White Dixon; with a Foreword by Lynette Young Overby)

The Dance Claimed Me: a Biography of Pearl Primus (Peggy & Murray Schwartz)

The Life, Art, and Times of Joseph Delaney, 1904-1991 (Frederick C. Moffatt)  

A to Z of African Americans: African Americans in the Visual Arts (Steven Otfinoski)

Back in the Days: Remix (Photographs by Jamel Shabazz)

Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade (Maurie D. McInnis)

Intrigued by any of the above titles? Click on the links for a brief summary or come by the Library and peruse at your leisure!

Coming tomorrow: post three of three, featuring a bevy of hot topics such as religion, gender studies, and more… stay tuned!

Cesária Évora: 08/27/1941-12/17/2011

Renown Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora died this past weekend at age 70. Earning monikers such as “The Barefoot Diva”  and “The Queen of Morna,” Évora began performing at age 16. Releasing her first album in 1988, by 2003 she had earned a Grammy for her album Voz D’Amor.

An international star, Évora became famous for her distinctive contralto and soulful performances of songs of lament and longing. Indeed, “Évora was considered one of the world’s greatest exponents of Morna, a form of blues considered the national music of the Cape Verde islands, a former Portuguese colony which gained independence in 1975.” ( For more on her life and legacy, see the following links for obituaries published in the New York Times, the BBC, and the Washington Post, among others. You may also hear a brief clip of Évora in performance here.

For those of you who are UNC affiliates, if you’re interested in a more extensive discussion of her career from a sociological perspective we encourage you to make use of the new Articles+ search tool to locate the following article: “Cesária Évora: ‘The Barefoot Diva’ and Other Stories.” (by Carla Martin, in Transition, No. 103, Cabo Verde (2010), pp. 82-97). Here at the SCL we also have Music is the weapon of the future : fifty years of African popular music (2002), which includes the chapter “From Kode di Dona to Cesaria Evora: Sodade in A Major: The Music of Cape Verde”  (p. 191).

SCL Picks: Dance! Dance! Dance!

Calling all dance enthusiasts! Take a look at a few of our latest titles on dance in the Caribbean:

Pictured above: Making Caribbean dance: continuity and creativity in island cultures (2010)  |  Carlos Acosta: the reluctant dancer (2010)  |  Dance Jamaica: renewal and continuity: the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica 1962-2008 (2009).

Looking for other types of resources? Don’t forget to check out the Dance section of our Guide to the Web!

Happy reading, and hope you all have a fabulous holiday weekend! 🙂

SCL Picks: Hip-Hop!

As Black Music Month comes to a close, we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight just a few more of the Library’s holdings… check out some of our picks in hip-hop!

Pictured above: Stand and deliver: political activism, leadership, and hip hop culture; Icons of hip hop: an encyclopedia of the movement, music, and culture (Vols. 1 & 2); The black chord: visions of the groove: connections between Afro-beats, rhythm & blues, hip hop, and more; That’s the joint!: the hip-hop studies reader; And it don’t stop!: the best American hip-hop journalism of the last 25 years.

Looking for more? How about…

Happy reading! 🙂

Some SCL Picks to celebrate Black Music Month!

Love music? Looking for something new to read? Check out these three fabulous titles newly available here at the library:

“Despite the influence of blues performance and study as a worldwide phenomenon, no comprehensive and fully annotated reference tool currently exists on the genre. This much needed bibliography fills an important gap in the study of the blues and will prove an indispensable resource for librarians and scholars studying African-American culture, American music, and blues.” (Summary by Syndetic Solutions)

“This book explores the two major reasons for hip-hop culture’s proliferation throughout the world: 1) the global centrality of African American popular culture and the transnational pop culture industry of record companies and entertainment conglomerates; and 2) “connective marginalities” that are extant social inequalities forming the foundation for an “underground” network of hip-hop communities. Both of these levels of hip-hop’s global circulation are based in the youth culture’s Africanist aesthetic, which is an extension of previous black artistic expressions such as verbal word play, polyrhythmic dance improvisations, radical juxtapositions of musical structures, and the folkloric trickster figure. Additionally, the text explores computer technology and the internet in this age of information that also serves hip-hop culture’s globalization.” (Summary by Syndetic Solutions)

“This exciting collection looks at linguistic, cultural and economic aspects of hip hop in parallel and showcases a global scope. It engages with questions of code-switching, code-mixing, the minority language/regional dialect vs. standard dynamic, the discourse of political resistance, immigrant ideologies, youth and new language varieties, and will be essential reading for graduates and researchers in sociolonguistics and discourse analysis.” (Description by Continuum Books)


June is Black Music Month, so stayed tuned for more music-related selections available here @the Stone Center Library!

SCL Picks: Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities

This week, the Stone Center Library recommends yet another new arrival to our collection: Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities. This anthology seeks to respond to the following question: “As a text, how are Black bodies and Black hair read and understood in life, art, popular culture, mass media, or cross-cultural interactions?.”

With editors Regina E. Spellers and Kimberly R. Moffitt at the helm, Blackberries and Redbones is divided thematically into five areas:

  • Part I: Hair/Body Politics as Expression of the Life Cycle
  • Part II: Hair/Body as Power
  • Part III: Hair/Body in Art and Popular Culture
  • Part IV: Celebrations, Innovations, and Applications of Hair/Body Politics
  • Part V: Contradictions, Complications, and Complexities of Hair/Body Politics

An interdisciplinary mix of scholarly essays, poems, and other creative writing, each selection concludes with 2-3 discussion questions for further thought, making this a collection both academically rigorous and supremely accessible to the general public.

Writings include titles such as “From Air Jordan to Jumpman: The Black Male Body as Commodity” (Ingrid Banks); “Weaving Messages of Self-Esteem: Empowering Mothers and Daughters through Hair Braiding” (Tracey Y. Lewis-Elligan); “‘I am More than a Victim’: The Slave Woman Stereotype in Antebellum Narratives by Black Men” (Ellesia A. Blaque); “The Big Girl’s Chair: A Rhetorical Analysis of How Motions for Kids Markets Relaxers to African American Girls;” and “Sun Kissed or Sun Cursed?: Exploring Color Consciousness and Black Women’s Tanning Experiences” (Regina E. Spellers).

You can also check out their companion website, which features a discussion board (registration required). Interested in learning more? Come by the library and check it out – Blackberries and Redbones is currently featured in our reading area display. Hope to see you soon!

National Library Week 2011! More new titles @your [Stone Center] library!

Yesterday marked the start of ALA’s National Library Week 2011 and this year’s theme is “Create your own story @your library.”  If you’re looking for new stories to add to your arsenal, be sure to check out the Stone Center Library’s latest display of new titles.

Interested in Caribbean topics?  Then today’s highlights might be right up your alley.  Click on the links below for more information, or come by the library to browse in person!

“Clarke and Clarke have created a journal that provides an ethnographic record of the East Indians and Creoles of San Fernando–and the entire sugar belt south of the town known as Naparima. They record socio-political relations during the second year of Trinidad’s independence (1964), and provide first-hand evidence for the workings of a complex, plural society in which race, religion, and politics had become, and have remained, deeply intertwined.”

“Contrary to popular belief, the ideology of empire in the nineteenth-century British produced a number of West Indian Creoles who took the language and values of Britain’s supposedly liberal empire and turned them upside down. . . Inverting the racist hierarchy of nineteenth-century British imperial thought, twentieth-century political activists in the British West Indies used the concepts of liberal ideology to claim that the subject people of the West Indies constituted a Creole nation that deserved the right to govern itself.”

“This ground-breaking study of the Caribbean’s iconography traces the history of visual representations of the region, as perceived by outsider and insider alike, over the last five hundred years.”

“Artists, teachers, administrators, and researchers survey many facets of dance in the region, both folk dance from African and colonial heritages, and art dance that has mingled those traditions with others around the world.”

“Lewis’ last manuscript, The Modern Caribbean: a New Voyage of Discovery,” was scheduled to be published about the time of his death in 1991. Most of the chapters in this volume come from that previously unpublished work, although a few others are included. Lewis, a social scientist who was based at the University of Puerto Rico since 1955, wrote widely on the Caribbean from an interdisciplinary point of view.”


Coming tomorrow: new titles on display relating to other aspects of the African diaspora.

SCL Picks: “IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas”

So many good books, so little time!  This week’s staff pick is IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas, published by the Smithsonian Institution‘s National Museum of the American Indian.  This collection of essays by 27 scholars serves as a companion piece to the museum’s exhibit of the same name, which opened in 2009.  Here, “Readers will find four main lenses through which to consider African-Native American lives: racial policy, community, creative resistance (both peaceful and militant), and lifeways”(19).

Essays include:

  • “DNA and Native American Identity” (Kimberly Tallbear)
  • “Claiming the Name: White Supremacy, Tribal Identity, and Racial Policy in the Early Twentieth-Century Chesapeake” (Gabrielle Tayac)
  • “Red, Black, and Brown: Artists and the Aesthetics of Race” (Phoebe Farris)
  • “What Is a Black Indian?”: Misplaced Expectations and Lived Realities” (Robert Keith Collins)

… as well as “Native Americans, African Americans, and Jim Crow,” written by UNC’s own Dr. Theda Perdue, Atlanta Distinguished Professor of Southern Culture (Department of History).

Weaving colorful photographs, illustrations, primary source documents, and rich analyses, this tome “examines the long overlooked history of Native American and African American intersections.”  As such, it is a compelling (and gorgeously-presented) read for anyone interested in learning more about this oft-overlooked segment of the American population.

Interested in learning more?  Come by the library and check it out!  Also, don’t forget that back in November, in recognition of American Indian month, we posted a list of related resources available here at the library.  Happy reading!