Over the past two decades, cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon’s scholarship has been instrumental in challenging the dominant white-male framing of rock music history.1 While mainstream textbooks and scholarship now commonly recognize the contributions of Black male instrumentalists like Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix, discussions of Blackness in rock music often overlook the important contributions of African American women. In Black Diamond Queens, Mahon masterfully examines the well-explored history of rock and reveals how the creative labor, aesthetics, and identity politics of Black women vocalists are integral to the genre. Drawing from a wealth of archival and ethnographic sources, she centers the critical and creative voices of several Black Diamond Queens who “went their own way, doing their best to sustain careers in a professional entertainment industry that relied on their creative labor and musical contributions, but displaced them and rewarded others who took on key elements of their...
Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll, by Maureen Mahon
JASMINE A. HENRY is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include Black electronic dance music, independent music production, and Afrofuturism. Her current book project examines the cultural history and production of contemporary Black urban club music in Newark, New Jersey. From 2017 to 2022, she served as the Newark School of the Arts’ Media Lab Director, where she provided youth from historically marginalized backgrounds with access to music technologies and industry knowledge.
Jasmine A. Henry; Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll, by Maureen Mahon. Journal of the American Musicological Society 1 August 2023; 76 (2): 535–538. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jams.2023.76.2.535
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