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Grant number: FA-57418-13

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Maureen Elizabeth Mahon
New York University (New York, NY 10012-1019)

Voices of African American Women in Rock and Roll, 1953-1984

This book explores the familiar tale of rock and roll’s origins and development from an unfamiliar perspective: through the experiences of African American women. Focusing on the period from 1953, when blues singer Big Mama Thornton recorded her hit “Hound Dog,” to 1984, when the solo career of rock veteran Tina Turner took flight, "Beyond Brown Sugar" delves into issues of voice and representation in the music and lives of African American women musicians. I examine the musical and personal voices of these artists, approaching voice in three distinct ways: as an expressive instrument, as creative vision, and as critical and analytical viewpoint. I also explore the ways these artists experienced and navigated the complex intersection of gender, race, class, sexuality, and musical genre. My goal is to uncover a hidden history of African American women in rock and roll, expanding our understanding of their role and offering a more inclusive, holistic story of the genre.

Project fields:
African American Studies

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2013 – 8/31/2014