BSAW Workshop with
Mendi + Keith Obadike

Friday, December 7

469 College Street

Stoeckel Hall Rm 106

Food and drink provided.

Mendi + Keith Obadike are two of the most pathbreaking artists of their generation. They make art, music, and literature, and they have exhibited and performed at a range of venues including The New Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art. Bold, innovative, daring, and awe inspiring, their work explores, among other things, the complexities of blackness and sonic cultures, technology and racial capitalism, futurity, historical memory, and the entanglements between race and new media. Since 1996 they have been making conceptual Internet art and sound art works together.

Some of their best known works include “My Hands/Wishful Thinking” (2000) an Internet art memorial for Amadou Diallo; their 2002 internet opera The Sour Thunder (Bridge Records, Inc.) which featured hypertext writings by literary critic Houston Baker, performance artist Coco Fusco and musician DJ Spooky among others; and their epic masterpiece, the internet opera entitled Four Electric Ghosts, which was developed for Toni Morrison’s Atelier at Princeton University in 2005 and the Kitchen in New York in 2009. In 2008 they produced a compilation CD entitled Crosstalk: American Speech Music on Bridge Records. The album features music by Vijay Iyer, Guillermo E. Brown, Shelley Hirsch, George E. Lewis, Pamela Z, John Link, Paul Lansky, Tracie Morris, DJ Spooky, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Peter Gordon/Lawrence Weiner. A number of their projects include a series of large-scale, public sound art works: Blues Speaker (for James Baldwin) at The New School, Free/Phase at the Chicago Cultural Center & Rebuild Foundation, Sonic Migration at Scribe Video Center & Tindley Temple, Philadelphia and Compass Song, an app for Times Square (commissioned by Times Square Arts). Their recent museum exhibitions include the group shows Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966) at The Whitechapel Gallery in London, I Was Raised on The Internet at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the upcoming PROGRAMMED at The Whitney Museum of American Art. They are currently serving as the first artists in residence at Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn. With the unveiling of their installation Utopias: Seeking for A City, the artists ask visitors to think about what songs and stories were in the minds of the people who created Weeksville and other intentional communities.

Keith received a BA in Art from North Carolina Central University and an MFA in Sound Design from Yale University. He is a professor in the College of Arts and Communication at William Paterson University and serves a digital media editor at Obsidian. Mendi received a BA in English from Spelman College and a PhD in Literature from Duke University. She is currently an associate professor in the Writing Department and the Department of Humanities and Media Studies and she directs the Graduate Program in Media Studies at Pratt Institute.

BSAW Workshop
with Rhiannon Giddens
and Francesco Turrisi
Tuesday, November 13 | 4pm

Photo Credit: Karen Cox

Join us, just ahead of our public program, for this special workshop session with Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi discussing the historical movements of “world” music.

Tuesday, November 13
469 College Street
Stoeckel Hall Room 106
Yale University
*Reception with food and drink to follow

“There is no ‘Other'”: Minstrelsy as World Music”

There is a contemporary notion that “world” music is a recent phenomenon but in fact music has always been global. Just as foodways and artistic techniques have travelled trade routes for thousands of years, so too has music. American musician Rhiannon Giddens and Italian instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi will explore the journeys of the banjo and the tambourine (or tamburello), respectively, from the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Africa, and how they ended up meeting in America in the 1800s as a part of the massive cultural phenomenon that was the minstrel show.

An evening with
Tuesday, November 13 | 7pm

Photo credit: David McClister

Join us for an evening of critical listening with Grammy Award winning Roots Americana musician and MacArthur Fellow


in conversation with BSAW co-directors Professor Daphne A. Brooks (African American Studies, Theater Studies, American Studies, Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies) and Professor Brian Kane (Department of Music)

Tuesday, November 13
Sudler Recital Hall
Second Floor | W.L. Harkness Hall
Yale University
100 Wall Street
New Haven, CT

Free and open to the public!

Rhiannon Giddens is the co-founder of the GRAMMY award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she also plays banjo and fiddle. She began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett– produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. The elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit that brought the audience to its feet that night is also abundantly evident on Giddens’ critically acclaimed solo debut, the Grammy nominated album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, which masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess.

Giddens’ follow-up album Freedom Highway was released in February, 2017. It includes 9 original songs Giddens wrote or co-wrote along with a traditional song and two civil rights-era songs, Birmingham Sunday and Staple Singers’ well-known “Freedom Highway,” from which the album takes its name. She is the recipient of a 2017 MacArthur Genius Grant.

Presented by Yale’s Black Sound & the Archive Working Group (BSAW)

320 York Humanities

BSAW Workshop with Kevin Beasley
Friday, October 5, 10 AM – 12 PM
106 Stoeckel Hall

All are welcome to attend a special BSAW workshop and discussion with Kevin Beasley. The workshop will be held on Friday, October 5, from 10-12, in 106 Stoeckel Hall. As usual, breakfast and coffee will be available. See you there!


An evening with Kevin Beasley
Thursday, October 4, 7:30pm
Yale School of Music
Hendrie Hall, Room 201
165 Elm Street, New Haven

Kevin Beasley (b. 1985 Lynchburg) is a New York-based artist whose work and performances have been shown internationally. His practice engages history and cultural nuance through diverse media, including sculpture, sound and performance. Since 2012, these works have been developed as process-lead explorations in which materials, audio and residue are altered, cast, distorted and rebuilt. Specifically, his approach to sound ruptures the auditory, implicating the body. As Thomas Lax writes in Artforum, “Beasley’s absenting presence—presence as voice, as indexical mark, presence that may be active and collective or haunted, spectral, and deferred—strategically negotiates the reality of being an embodied subject who cannot elide the dangers of subjection or its historical and political specificities.”

In recent years, Beasley has exhibited his work at institutions and site-specific venues such as Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial (2018); Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, MA (solo) (2018); The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, as part of Hammer Projects (solo) (2017); In 2017, CounterCurrent17 in conjunction with Project Row Houses and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, University of Houston, TX (2017); The Studio Museum in Harlem, Morningside Park, New York (solo) (2017); and The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (2016). Beasley has performed at venues such as Lincoln Center, New York (2016); The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2016); The High Line (2015); Casey Kaplan, New York (2015); The Dallas Museum of Art (2015); The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015); and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012). His work is held in the collections of TATE, London; The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Studio Museum Harlem, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco. Beasley is slated to present a solo exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art in December 2018. The artist lives and works in New York.

BSAW Year 2
Inaugural Meeting
Thursday, Sept. 13
5 – 6:30 PM, 106 Stoeckel

BSAW is back!

Following on the events of last year, we are planning another year of meetings, workshops, and public events with some of the great luminaries of black sound studies in the arts and the humanities. Visit our calendar for dates and times of upcoming meetings and events.

We encourage you to reach out to your colleagues and graduate student cohorts and spread the word to anyone that might be interested in joining the second year of BSAW. Everyone is welcome to attend the inaugural meeting on Thursday, September 13th, 5 – 6:30 PM, 106 Stoeckel Hall. As is the our tradition, we’ll have plenty of food and drink.


Inaugural Meeting: BSAW Year 2
Thursday, September 13th, 5 – 6:30 PM, 106 Stoeckel

End of Year Exhibition
Friday, April 13
Sterling Memorial Library
10 AM – 12 PM

Join us on Friday, April 13, in Sterling Memorial Library from 10 AM until 12 PM for a special end-of-year event. We are taking over the hallway between the Gilmore Music Library and the Center for Teaching and Learning for an exhibition of black sound archives, both real and virtual.

On one side of the hall, the Black Sound and the Archive Working Group will be presenting an exhibition of web-based “sound archives,” curated by our year-long participants. Students will present a series of short talks about their archives and visitors will have the opportunity to visit the online exhibition.  On the other side of the hall, the  Gilmore Music Library’s exhibition Black Sound and the Archive will be opening. The exhibit  will feature archival objects from the Gilmore’s collection that explore some of the working group’s central themes. The description is included below:

The Black Sound and the Archive Working Group at Yale University is a two-year initiative (supported by Yale’s 320 York Humanities Grant) that focuses on the history and significance of African-American sonic practices in tandem with critical examination of the nature of archives. The group seeks to augment the very notion of what constitutes a black sound archive. Beyond historical sound recordings as such, African-American sonic practices are also embedded in a rich yet often opaque archive of extraordinary and everyday objects, photographs, narratives, performances, and repertoires. The group is led by Professors Daphne Brooks (African American Studies, American Studies, Theater Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) and Brian Kane (Music), and includes faculty, graduate students, and undergrads from Yale and beyond. It produces a variety of events, including workshops, performances, and this exhibit at the Gilmore Music Library, also entitled Black Sound and the Archive. The exhibit features an array of rare and unusual items from the library’s collections, such as an arrangement written by Mary Lou Williams, a document in Duke Ellington’s hand, and several surprising objects (ranging from a walking stick to pajamas) that belonged to J. Rosamond Johnson, the composer of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Special thanks to the staff of the Gilmore Music Library and the Center for Teaching and Learning for their cooperation and support.

Jason Moran
Thursday, April 12
Sudler Hall, 7:30 PM

Jason Moran is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of his generation. He has produced ten albums and six film soundtracks, including scores for Ava DuVernay’s Selma and 13th, as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me: A Theatrical Performance which had its world premiere at the Apollo Theatre this month. Mr. Moran’s recent releases include The Armory Concert (2016), Thanksgiving at the Vanguard (2017), BANGS (2017), and MASS (Howl,; eon) under his own label Yes Records. In 2010 Mr. Moran was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. He currently serves as the Artistic Director for Jazz at The Kennedy Center.

Roshanak Kheshti
Lecture and Workshop
March 1 and 2


Public Talk | “We See With The Skin: Zora Neale Hurston’s Synesthetic Hermeneutics”



Workshop | “Cat Face on Bleeding Pine”


Roshanak Kheshti is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and affiliate faculty in the Critical Gender Studies Program at UC San Diego. Her first book Modernity’s Ear: Listening to Race and Gender in World Music (NYU Press, 2015) is an examination of the form of listening promoted by the US world music culture industry through which the modern listening subject is produced. Her research broadly centers on the consumption of race, gender and sexuality through sound and film. She is currently working on two monographs: Switched on Bach for the 33 1/3 series as well as “We See With The Skin: Zora Neale Hurston’s Synesthetic Hermeneutics, which is a media archaeology project exploring Zora Neale Hurston’s ethnographic work across various media. Her scholarship has appeared in the Radical History Review, American Quarterly, Anthropology News, Parallax, Feminist Studies, GLQ, Theater Survey, and Sounding Out!.

Presented with support from the 320 York Humanities Programming Endowment and the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM).



Cécile McLorin Salvant
Wednesday, February 21
7pm, Sudler Hall


Alexandra T. Vazquez
Lecture and Workshop
Feb. 8 and 9

Join us for two exciting Black Sound & the Archive events with PROFESSOR 

THURSDAY, February 8, 20185 PM

WLH 309 | 100 Wall St

“Adapted City:
 Miami from the Spoils”

Abstract: Cities are vibrant archives of the sounds that move towards them and depart from them. Listen with Vazquez to the ways that musicians make songs to make home in Miami, Havana, and elsewhere.


FRIDAY, February 9, 2018

10 AM 


“Archival Transit Delays”

Abstract: Listeners and researchers of Latin music must first confront, and then make something of the disorder of its records. This workshop will work with the gaps and errors in everyday archives, taking them as exciting opportunities for listening and criticism.

As preparation for this workshop, we ask all participants to please read some excerpts from Prof. Vazquez’s book, Listening in Detail.
Excerpts from Listening in Detail

Alexandra T. Vazquez is Associate Professor of Performance Studies at New York University. She is the author of Listening in Detail: Performances of Cuban Music (Duke UP), winner of the American Studies Association’s 2013 Lora Romero First Book Prize. She is currently working on a new project entitled Florida Water.

Presented with support from the 320 York Humanities Programming Endowment and the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM).

First Meeting of Spring 2018
Friday, January 26

The first meeting of the Spring semester will be held on Friday, January 26, from 10 AM -12 noon in our usual location (106 Stoeckel). Our goal for this meeting is to further discuss your ideas for the end-of-semester exhibition and to check in on your progress. If you haven’t already done so, please do some thinking and research into your potential “sound archives” before the meeting. We will also be discussing upcoming events for the semester and ways that we can prepare for them.

We’ll have coffee and food and look forward to seeing you there.

Final Meeting for Fall 2017
Friday, December 8

The final meeting of the semester will be held on Friday, December 8, from 10 AM -12 noon in our usual location (106 Stoeckel). Please bring your questions, thoughts, and comments on anything and everything we’ve done, read, seen, heard, and discussed this semester. This is a meeting for all of us to talk about the ongoing and future direction of the working group, and generate ideas for next semester’s exhibition. We are looking forward to a lively discussion and will see you there!

Brent Hayes Edwards
Lecture and Workshop
Nov. 30 – Dec. 1

Our next BSAW event will be focused around the work of Brent Hayes Edwards, who will be giving this year’s James Weldon Johnson lecture and holding a special workshop with our working group. Over the course of an illustrious career, Prof. Edwards has made significant contributions  to the study of African-American and African diasporic literature, Francophone literature, 20th-century poetry, translation studies,  black radical historiography,  archive theory, and black music. The publication of his new book, Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination (Harvard University Press, 2017), which was a decade in the making, promises to be a major event in the ongoing development of new jazz studies.

The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Lecture, entitled “Black Radicalism and the Archive,” will be held at Beinecke Library on Thursday, November 30, 2017 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM.

Our workshop with Prof. Hayes will be held the following morning, Friday December 1, from 10 AM – 12 noon in 106 Stoeckel Hall. As usual, we will have coffee and breakfast included.

To prepare for our workshop, please read Introduction and Chapters 1 and 3 from Epistrophies:

Brent Edwards, from Epistrophies

Cécile McLorin Salvant
Friday, December 1st
7:30 PM
Sprague Hall

Grammy award winning vocalist, Cécile McLorin Salvant, will be performing at Yale on December 1st, as part of the Ellington Jazz Series. (See this link for ticket information.)

Ms. Salvant will be leading a workshop and conversation with Black Sound and the Archive on February 21st, 2018. Stay tuned for details!

The Ellington Jazz Series is sponsored by the Yale School of Music. We’d like to thank the Tom Duffy, the artistic director, for his collaboration with our working group.

Valerie June
Wednesday, November 8
7:30 PM
Kroon Hall

Fourth Session — John Davis — Friday, October 20

Friday, October 20, 10 AM – 12 PM in 107 Stoeckel Hall

For the fourth session of Black Sound and the Archive we will be joined by the pianist and scholar John Davis. John’s work on African American musicians and composers, especially his work on Blind Tom, have opened up new archives for scholarly study and historically informed performance.

To prepare for his visit, here is a pdf of “Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues,” a catalog from an exhibition conceive by Davis at Brown University. You should also visit his website and listen to recordings there and on spotify.

Bamboula! exhibition catalog

John Davis Plays Blind Tom (on Spotify)

Daphne Brooks, “Puzzling the Intervals: Blind Tom and the Poetics of the Sonic Slave Narrative”

Third Session — Yale Archivists — Friday, October 13

The third session of Black Sound and the Archive will meet on Friday, October 13th, 10 AM – NOON, in  Beinecke Room 38-89. We will be meeting with four archivists from various collections at Yale to discuss issues pertaining to archival work on black sonic practices. The archivists are: Mark Bailey (Historical Sound Recordings), Melissa Barton (Beinecke), Emily DeLio (Gilmore Music Library), Libby Van Cleeve (Oral History of American Music). We are delighted to have them with us and look forward to a great discussion.

NOTE: Because we will be meeting in the Beinecke, all visitors must  leave their bags and coats in the lockers provided on the main floor of the library. No food or drink will be allowed.

Second Session – Theory and Methods – Friday, Sept. 22

The second session of Black Sound and the Archive will meet on Friday, Sept. 22nd, from 10 AM – 12 PM in 106 Stoeckel. The meeting will be focused on theory and methods of working with the black sound archive. Daphne Brooks and Brian Kane will discuss their own work as case studies.

Readings for the session are linked below:

Diana Taylor (The Archive and the Repertoire ch 1)

Kara Keeling, Looking for M

Paul Gilroy The Black Atlantic Chapter 3

Richard Allen (The Function of a Jazz Archive)

Saidiya Hartman, Venus in Two Acts

Inaugural Meeting of Black Sound and the Archive

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