One of my favorite ways of jump-starting classroom discussions about race and music is to show students “White People Can’t Dance,” a skit from the second season of Chappelle’s Show. In this seven-minute comedic sketch, Black comedian Dave Chappelle and his guest, white guitarist and pop star John Mayer, visit different New York City locations in order to test a hypothesis: white people can dance if you play electric guitar music. Beginning with white people in a corporate boardroom spontaneously moving their bodies in ecstasy when Mayer interrupts their meeting with a psychedelic rock performance and ending with Black people in a Harlem barbershop ignoring Mayer’s guitar solo but immediately...
The Race of Sound: Listening, Timbre, and Vocality in African American Music, by Nina Sun Eidsheim
LOREN KAJIKAWA is Associate Professor of Music at the George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. His research focuses on the intersection of music, race, and politics in the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Society for American Music and is currently series coeditor for Tracking Pop, the University of Michigan Press’s popular music book series.
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Loren Kajikawa; The Race of Sound: Listening, Timbre, and Vocality in African American Music, by Nina Sun Eidsheim. Journal of the American Musicological Society 1 April 2021; 74 (1): 157–161. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jams.2021.74.1.157
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