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LLL Presents: Daphne Brooks and Tracy K. Smith In Conversation

April 1, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The award-winning Black feminist music critic Daphne Brooks takes us on an epic journey through radical sound from Bessie Smith to Beyoncé. She is joined by Pulitzer-Prize winning poet and former Poet Laureate of the U.S., Tracy K. Smith for a wide-ranging discussion of both acclaimed Black women musicians and overlooked Black feminist cultural workers who helped promote their music. Join us!

To register, click here.

Daphne A. Brooks explores more than a century of music archives to examine the critics, collectors, and listeners who have determined perceptions of Black women on stage and in the recording studio. How is it possible, she asks, that iconic artists such as Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé exist simultaneously at the center and on the fringe of the culture industry?

Liner Notes for the Revolution offers a startling new perspective on these acclaimed figures — a perspective informed by the overlooked contributions of other Black women concerned with the work of their musical peers. Zora Neale Hurston appears as a sound archivist and a performer, Lorraine Hansberry as a queer Black feminist critic of modern culture, and Pauline Hopkins as America’s first Black female cultural commentator. Brooks tackles the complicated racial politics of blues music recording, song collecting, and rock and roll criticism. She makes lyrical forays into the blues pioneers Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith, as well as fans who became critics, like the record-label entrepreneur and writer Rosetta Reitz. In the twenty-first century, pop superstar Janelle Monae’s liner notes are recognized for their innovations, while celebrated singers Cécile McLorin Salvant, Rhiannon Giddens, and Valerie June take their place as cultural historians.

With an innovative perspective on the story of Black women in popular music (and who should rightly tell it) Liner Notes for the Revolution pioneers a long overdue recognition and celebration of Black female musicians as radical intellectuals.

Daphne Brooks is Professor of African American Studies, American Studies, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Music at Yale University. She is the author of the award-winning Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910, and of Jeff Buckley’s GraceLiner Notes is the first volume in a trilogy entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound ModernityTracy K. Smith was Poet Laureate of the U.S. from 2017 to 2019 and is the Chair of Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, where she also is Professor. She is the author of the memoir Ordinary Light and of four books of poetry, the most recent of which are Wade in the Water and Life on Mars, for which she received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

This event is cosponsored by the Princeton Public Library , the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, Princeton University Concerts, and the African American Studies Department at Princeton.


April 1, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm