Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., is an award-winning musicologist, music historian, composer, and pianist whose prescient theoretical and critical interventions have bridged Black cultural studies and musicology. Representing twenty-five years of commentary and scholarship, these essays document Ramsey’s search to understand America's Black musical past and present and to find his own voice as an African American writer in the field of musicology. This far-reaching collection embraces historiography, ethnography, cultural criticism, musical analysis, and autobiography, traversing the landscape of Black musical expression from sacred music to art music, and jazz to hip-hop. Taken together, these essays and the provocative introduction that precedes them are testament to the legacy work that has come to define a field, as well as a rousing call to readers to continue to ask the hard questions and write the hard truths.
A Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. is a prize-winning music historian, pianist, composer. He is Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Pennsylvania. A widely-published writer, he’s the author of Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop (2003), and The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History and the Challenge of Bebop (2013). Dr. Ramsey is co-author beside Samuel A. Floyd, Jr., with Melanie Zeck of The Transformation of Black Music: The Rhythms, the Songs and the Ships of the African Diaspora (2017) and editor of Rae Linda Brown, The Heart of a Woman: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price (2020). His books in progress include the monograph Sound Proof: Black Music, Magic and Racial Intimacies, a history of African American music from the slave-era to the present. He was editor for the series Music of the African Diaspora at the University of California Press for ten years and founding editor of the blog Musiqology.com. As a producer, label head, and leader of the band Dr. Guy’s Musiqology, Dr. Ramsey has released five recording projects and has performed at venues such as The Blue Note and Harlem Stage in New York, and the Annenberg Theater of the Performing Arts and Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia, and other venues worldwide. His musical commissions include “Someone Is Listening,” written with poet Elizabeth Alexander, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the NAACP; he recently scored the prize-winning documentary Making Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South.
La Marr Jurelle Bruce is a prize-winning author, interdisciplinary humanities scholar, B/black studies devotee, first-generation college graduate, and Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. His scholarship explores and activates black expressive cultures—spanning literature, music, film, theatre, and the art and aesthetics of quotidian black life. Among his other interests are performance theory, popular culture, disability studies, queer theory, psychoanalysis, and theories and praxes of love. His debut book, How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind: Madness and Black Radical Creativity, earned the MLA Prize for a First Book from the Modern Language Association and the Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista Outstanding Book Award from the Caribbean Philosophical Association. Now he’s in the thick of a study of—and experiment in—convergences of love and madness.