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Renowned Ethnomusicologist PORTIA MAULTSBY (Indiana University) delivers the 2023 Annual Torrance Lecture. 

Talk Title
Community, Culture and Black Musical Creativity

Talk Summary
As a high school student in Orlando, Florida, I witnessed a live performance of James Brown-- the “Godfather of Soul.”  His show featured a MC-comedian, back-up singers, dancers, and horn and rhythm sections. I was mesmerized by what I heard and saw. The pulsing rhythms, percussive sounds, choreographed movements, flashy costumes, and high energy performance resonated with me and the all-Black audience.  The dynamic of this performance resembled Black church services and raised my curiosity about the production and meaning of Black cultural expressions. My presentation examines how Brown’s performance influenced the way I thought about, critiqued, and engaged with musical creativity--all leading to my professional study of ethnomusicology.

Speaker Bio
Portia K. Maultsby, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Ethnomusicology in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Founding Director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture, and of the Indiana University Soul Revue. Her pioneering scholarship on African American music--religious, popular, music globalization, and the music industry--intertwines with creative endeavors. The latter includes Leader of R&B, Soul, and Funk Bands, songwriter-arranger and producer of commercial recordings, music consultant for PBS Black history documentary series, Eyes on the Prize II, and co-producer / consultant for museum films. Professor Maultsby has co-edited two books African American Music:An Introduction. 2nd. Ed. (2015) [3rd Ed. in progress] and Issues in African American Music (2017), Routledge Press.

Lecture Venue

Auditorium,  Georgia Museum of Art (90 Carlton Street, Athens GA)

For parking information:


This event follows a MINI-CONFERENCE on the theme of the Singular Creativity of African-American Musical Creativity (10am-2pm) and the PUBLIC CONCERT CELEBRATING CONTEMPORARY BLACK MUSIC (4pm-5pm), both of which will be held in the Georgia Museum of Art, Auditorium.

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