Conference & Concert

November 8, 2023

University of Colorado Denver

Theorizing African American Music (TAAM) highlights African American perspectives on music and music theory, perspectives that have historically been marginalized in the United States. In our current environment, the situation is ripe for such perspectives to be heard. Because American music theory is deeply rooted in whiteness, African Americans have had virtually no agency in shaping how music theory, as a subdiscipline, is taught or how musical genres that are deeply rooted in African Americanism are presented. This conference provides a platform for scholars interested in the theory and analysis of African American music. TAAM foregrounds Black voices as we welcome music theorists, musicologists, ethnomusicologists, music critics, performers, and others invested in African American music. The intent of the conference is twofold. First, we address this erasure of African American scholars and their perspectives from the discipline of music theory. Equally important, we include musicological, ethnomusicological, and other analytical perspectives on American musics that can reasonably be said to have roots in African Americanism.



Chris Jenkins
Chris Jenkins

Christopher Jenkins is the Associate Dean for Academic Support, the Conservatory Liaison to the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology at Oberlin Conservatory. In 2023 his first book, Assimilation v. Integration in Music Education, was published by Routledge Press and the College Music Society. Chris is currently earning a DMA in viola performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a PhD in musicology from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), where his work focuses on African-American musical aesthetics. In 2022, alongside music theorist Philip Ewell, Chris was a co-founder and co-organizer of the Theorizing African American Music conference held at CWRU.

Philip Elwell

Philip Elwell

Philip Ewell is a professor of music theory at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he served as Director of Graduate Studies from 2016 to 2022. Ewell's research specialties include race studies in music theory, Russian music theory, Russian opera, modal theory and history, twentieth-century music theory, and hip hop and popular music. As a public music theorist, his scholarship has appeared in Adam Neely’s YouTube channel, the  BBC, the CBCDie ZeitThe EconomistThe New York TimesThe  New YorkerOur Body Politic, and  WQXR’s Aria Code, among other outlets. Ewell is the series editor for the Oxford University Press book series, Theorizing African American Music, which launched in Fall 2022.


Fredara Hadley
Fredara Hadley

Fredara Mareva Hadley is an ethnomusicology professor at Juilliard in the music history department. Hadley teaches courses on jazz history, African American music, and ethnomusicology, and her research centers on the diverse musical legacies and impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Her publications include the ICTM Yearbook and Journal of Popular Music Studies as well as outlets including The Washington Post and Billboard Magazine. She’s presented her research at academic conferences both domestically and abroad. Hadley’s other area of research focuses on Shirley Graham DuBois and the influence of musical pan-Africanism in her opera Tom Tom (1932) and her ongoing political engagement. Hadley earned her undergraduate and masters’s degree from Florida A&M University and Clark-Atlanta University, respectively, and her PhD in ethnomusicology from Indiana University. 


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Case Western Reserve University

Individual Sponsors

Georgia Cowart

College of Arts & Media

CU Denver

Arts Building

1150 10th Street

Suite 177

Denver, CO 80204