August’s free ebook is here! We’re giving away The Enforcers: How Little-known Trade Reporters Exposed The Keating Five and Advanced Business Journalism by Rob Wells!

Charles H. Keating had long used the courts to muzzle critical reporting of his business dealings, but aggressive reporting by a small trade paper called the National Thrift News helped bring down Keating and offered an inspiring example of business journalism that speaks truth to power. Rob Wells tells the story through the work of Stan Strachan, a veteran financial journalist who uncovered Keating’s misdeeds and links to a group of US senators—the Keating Five—who bullied regulators on his behalf. Examining the National Thrift News‘s approach, Wells calls for a new era of business reporting that can and must embrace its potential as a watchdog safeguarding the interests of the public.

Find out more about obtaining your free ebook here: https://mailchi.mp/767ae4d70f3b/uip-august-2021-free-ebook

The University of Illinois Press (UIP) is excited about moving our content to the Scholarly Publishing Collective (SPC) platform. We will offer full digital access alongside wonderful peer organizations at Longleaf Services, Michigan State University Press, Penn State University Press, and the Society of Biblical Literature.

From the Collective:

“Earlier this year, Duke University Press announced the Scholarly Publishing Collective, a collaboration with several journal publishers and societies to provide services including subscription management, fulfillment, hosting, and marketing and sales. Pricing information for libraries for the 2022 calendar year is now available for journals whose subscriptions are managed through the Collective.”

https://dukeupress.edu/About/News/Scholarly-Publishing-Collective-2022-Institutional

The new price list is available here: https://dukeupress.edu/Assets/Downloads/LR/SPC-Inst-Agent-Price-Sheet.xlsx

By partnering with the SPC, we are excited to be working with a state-of-the-art platform that offers an intuitive interface and robust supplemental content hosting opportunities, along with the library relations networks and agents that will help our journal titles succeed in a competitive marketplace. The University of Illinois Press is proud to be part of a collective with other UPs that will help extend university press content to greater audiences.

Mark R. Villegas, author of Manifest Technique: Hip Hop, Empire, and Visionary Filipino American Culture, answers questions on his childhood influences, discoveries, and reader takeaways in his book.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

This book was inspired by my own experiences as a second-generation Filipino American. Growing up on and near navy bases in the 1980s and 1990s meant growing up in a large, concentrated Filipino American community. I mention in my book that some student clubs in my high school (such as the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) in Jacksonville, Florida were largely Filipino American clubs. Filipino kids were always at the forefront of hip hop cultural innovation in dance, music, fashion, and graphic arts. People didn’t become famous or make money from it; more importantly, they built community while fortifying cross-racial collaborations. To me, these interrelated phenomena were common sense. But when I got to college, it became clear that people generally didn’t know much about Filipinos. We are among the largest populations in certain metropolitan regions, yet we remain difficult to pin down or are completely obscured. I wrote this book as a small effort to better understand the dynamics and multiplicities of Filipino American culture. Manifest Technique is an exploration of militarism, spirituality, fantastical imaginations, and dance embodiments among Filipino Americans. I argue that Filipino Americans’ cultural productions in hip hop perform critical memory work and provide complex political critiques. Hip hop and even pre-hip hop (e.g. jazz, funk, disco, R&B, and soul) are precious for several generations of Filipino American cultural vernaculars.

Q: Who were your biggest influences?

My biggest influences were the dancers, DJs, and graphic artists of my childhood. I lived in Long Beach, California during the height of gang activity in that region. I remember we couldn’t wear certain colors or shoe brands because we could get “checked” by so-called gang members. This was in elementary school, mind you! But interwoven within the hysteria around gangs was the blossoming of a new wave of hip hop culture in Southern California. Filipino Americans were not just participants in this wave, they were respected innovators and leaders. We had top DJs, graffiti writers, and dancers. We had crews, mirroring and overlapping with gang culture. I remember my oldest brother, Thom, and his crew getting down at house parties. Filipino “houzers,” stylish with their wild hair, colorful shirts, and big jeans, fused breaking and house dancing into their moves. Houzers were a solid part of my early childhood; my mom recalls cooking giant spreads for these houzers and other partiers at our navy housing home. For me, hip hop was encoded into the DNA of Filipino American culture. The music, dance, DJs, tagging, fashion, lingo, and even spiritual philosophies influenced my thinking and research questions for this book.  

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book?

Mark R. Villegas is an assistant professor of American studies at Franklin & Marshall College.

When I was younger, I assumed all Filipinos in the U.S. were associated with the navy. Whenever I met Filipinos with no navy connection, I would think they were weird. Every navy brat carried a gray military ID card to gain access to the base, grocery store, gym, and so on. So, to me, ID-deficient Filipino kids were strange! This cognitive dissonance was particularly acute when I escaped to college. I slowly learned to detach the navy from Filipinos in order to appreciate the fuller, more beautiful scope of Filipinoness. However, once I started interviewing people for my research, I encountered a disproportionate number of Filipino American artists with navy ties. This wasn’t a “discovery,” but more of an affirmation of what I had already understood: hip hop and the military had intertwined histories. I had no choice but to dedicate a book chapter on the migration of hip hop along military routes. Even after writing the chapter, I still gasp “no way!” when artists reveal to me their military backgrounds.

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn?

A popular myth is that Filipino Americans are outsiders doing something different from “real” hip hop. This is why I don’t use the term “Filipino American hip hop” as this phrase implies a separate genre (maybe hip hop music in a Filipino language). While it is true that some Filipino American artists make music with a sprinkling of Filipino words and paint murals with references to Philippine mythology, the larger story is that Filipino Americans have always been collaborators in broader hip hop communities. These communities have been maintaining and creating hip hop culture together. Filipino American hip hop performers, artists, audiences, and practitioners were prominent in very early multiracial hip hop scenes. While not the main point, my book suggests the historical significance of Filipino Americans in hip hop. I show that Filipino Americans are not outsiders: because of the powerful influences of U.S. colonization, they have always been intimate collaborators in a variety of Black popular expressions throughout the 20th century and beyond. Filipino Americans adapted their skills of West Coast boogaloo and popping (local Black dance styles that predate New York hip hop) to become among the best breakers, houzers, and hip hop dancers. The same pioneering spirit applied to the DJ scene. For example, DJ Nasty Nes started the first West Coast all-hip hop radio show in 1980 in Seattle. Filipino Americans also led a thriving freestyle music and R&B scene in the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1990s.

Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from your book?

Colonization changes culture in unexpected but significant ways. I hope readers appreciate that Filipinos have a funky history and an even funkier culture.

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun?

I read a lot of Filipino American fiction, which is in a moment of renaissance right now. Most recently, I completed Arsenic and Adobo (Mia Manansala), Insurrecto (Gina Apostol), America is Not the Heart (Elaine Castillo), In the Country (Mia Alvar),and the memoir The Body Papers (Grace Talusan). I have been watching Netflix anime and horror; I finished the Trese series, the first anime based in the Philippines and made by Filipinos and Filipino Americans. All I listen to is 1990s R&B music, honestly. Just play me some SWV, Aaliyah, Total, Monica, Brandy, Usher, Tamia, Faith Evans, Keith Sweat, Tevin Campbell, Tony! Toni! Toné! and Blackstreet.

Editor of the University of Illinois journal Visual Arts Research, Jorge Lucero, recently invited people from around the world to connect with each other and share an object that was important in their lives – telling their stories through their belongings.

Lucero, a professor and the chair of art education for the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, created the virtual Museum of Us in June for the Art Institute of Chicago. This site is an archive of the screenshots from the zoom-based exhibit, featuring participants’ things and their stories.

All of the participants wrote something about their items on an informational placard that accompanied artwork displayed in a gallery. Lucero felt is was important to have each person write about their possessions because it emphasized the subjectivity and personal stories behind the objects.

This Museum of Us is open to new contributions. If you wish to participate please contact them at this link, sending an image of your object on a plinth/pedestal made of objects in your home (e.g. books, boxes, etc.) along with the title of your object, a date of origin or acquisition, and a tagline about what “collection” to which the object belongs.

You can access Visual Arts Research on JSTOR: https://www.jstor.org/journal/visuartsrese or Project MUSE: https://muse.jhu.edu/journal/481.

Melanie Bell, author of Movie Workers: The Women Who Made British Cinema, answers questions on her scholarly influences, discoveries, and reader takeaways in her book.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

The absence of a nuanced understanding of women’s contribution to the histories of British movie-making frustrated me.  As a feminist scholar, I understood that this absence was the result of gendered assumptions which were being made by employers, trade unions and subsequently historians about the ‘value’ of women’s labor in film production. Most women in sound era cinema were employed in what were commonly known as ‘below-the-line’ roles, as continuity ‘girls’, wardrobe mistresses, production secretaries, editors, negative cutters and animation assistants; roles that were deemed ‘non-creative’ by male-authored commentary and subsequent film histories which privileged the director role. I wanted to challenge this idea that women’s work in below-the-line roles was ‘non-creative’ and move the argument forward to develop a more inclusive and nuanced understanding of how women’s technical skills and aesthetic sensibilities were central to the success of the British film industry.

Q: Who were your biggest influences?

I am indebted to the strong tradition of feminist film historiography that has built up over the last twenty years, in particular to the work of Shelly Stamp, Jane Gaines and Christine Gledhill amongst many others. Erin Hill’s, Never Done: A History of Women’s Work in Media Production (2016) is a pioneering text of women in sound era cinema and foregrounds questions of gender and historical media production in rigorous and engaging ways. I have also been inspired by scholars such as Kate Fortmuller, who has worked tirelessly ‘at the [labor] margins’ for many years, producing excellent scholarship on gendered labor and politics in the media industries. The interdisciplinary nature of this book took me to feminist archiving and the ideas of Kate Eichhorn (The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order, 2013) and Sara de Jong and Sanne Koevoets (Teaching Gender with Libraries and Archives: The Power of Information, 2013) have fueled my passion for thinking critically about the intertwining of gender and knowledge institutions.

Sue Harper and Annette Kuhn are critical influences because of their work on gender and cinema. Sue’s Women in British Cinema (2000) broke new ground in history-writing on British film-making, whilst Annette’s Dreaming of Fred and Ginger: Cinema and Cultural Memory (2002) changed the way film scholars thought about oral history as evidence. Both, in different and complementary ways, have significantly influenced my thinking on questions of gender and film.

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book?

Melanie Bell is an associate professor of film and media at the University of Leeds. Her books include Julie Christie: Stardom and Cultural Production and Femininity in Frame: Women and 1950s British Popular Cinema.

How seemingly unprepossessing sources (archival fragments, trade labor records, anecdotes and oral histories) can offer a window onto a rich and varied work history. A key example of this came to light when I was researching the role women played in the Service Film Units during the Second World War, especially the Royal Naval Film Section. Whilst it was widely acknowledged that they had worked as editors, negative cutters and projectionists, I was delighted to uncover records which revealed the full extent of women’s involvement which ranged across editing, photography, continuity and location work, the preparation of technical drawings, and the construction, painting and lighting of film sets. A picture of women’s multi-faceted contribution to war service emerged where their labor as carpenters, painters, draftswomen and model-makers was essential to the success of the creative team. I was able to recreate this history through archival fragments and seemingly ‘mundane’ trade labor records, and this and similar discoveries validated my methodology and empowered me to write these women’s histories with confidence and authority.

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn?

This book dispels the myth that women’s work in below-the-line roles in film production was non-creative. This myth suited the needs of employers and unions, enabling them to hold down wages for women and channel them into ‘supporting’ roles, but it didn’t reflect the reality of women’s work on the studio floor, on location, and in editing suites. Here women were part of a team that worked together to achieve a collective end, participating in a process which had a number of interlocking, co-dependent elements. Whether working as wardrobe mistresses, continuity ‘girls’, art director assistants or editors, women had not only technical skills but the aesthetic sensibility to deploy them and make creative decisions in the service of a shared understanding of what the film was trying to achieve. Approaching women’s work through this lens helps us unlearn the histories of film production which have marginalized women’s labor, re-valuing it from a fresh perspective.

Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from your book?

That whenever and wherever films are made, women have had a creative hand in the process. I hope readers can grasp the multiple forms and variant ways through which women made a major contribution to film production in Britain during the 20thC, and how we can draw together their work histories into a collective picture which enables us to reframe concepts of ‘creativity’ and ‘value’ in ways which are genuinely inclusive and exciting.  

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun?

There’s so much quality television right now that it’s hard to fit it all in. My current favorite is Call My Agent (Dix pour cent) that focuses on the professional machinations and dramas of a Paris-based talent agency. It’s smart, stylish and cinephilic with laugh-out-loud moments, and makes me long for a trip to Paris. Other recent favorites were Money Heist (La casa de papel), a Spanish crime drama, which fed my sartorial fascination with boiler suits, and the Swedish bank-heist comedy A Very Scandi Scandal, revolutionary is giving lead roles to two middle-aged women who take on the patriarchy and win.

For fiction I like the detective genre, and its mainly female-authored novels I return to time and again, especially PD James, Josephine Tey and Sara Paretsky. I like the mental agility that their complex plotting demands, and that their detectives are workaholics largely unencumbered by domestic responsibilities; I like my fiction to be escapist!

We want to offer our congratulations to American Music authors Katie A. Callam, Makiko Kimoto, Misako Ohta and Carol J. Oja for recently earning the Irving Lowens Article Award from the Society for American Music.

Citation from the prize committee: “This article explores Anderson’s tour through a collaborative, highly innovative cross-cultural approach by an international group of scholars. It raises multiple questions shaped by differences of culture and political context as it considers varied perceptions of race, music, and civil rights from both sides of the Pacific.”

Irving Lowens’ research and writing in American music form a cornerstone for American music history. As the principal founder of the Sonneck Society (now the Society for American Music) and its first president, he was largely responsible for making the study of American music a respective and thriving area in musicology today. The Irving Lowens Article Award commemorates this remarkable man and his achievements. It is granted annually by the Society for American Music for an article that makes an outstanding contribution to the study of American music and consists of a plaque and cash award.

The award-winning article appeared in the Fall 2019 issue, Vol. 37, No. 3. It can be accessed through the following link: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/739551.

July’s free ebook is here! We’re giving away Rocking the Closet: How Little Richard, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, and Johnny Mathis Queered Pop Music by Vincent L. Stephens!

The all-embracing, “whaddya got?” nature of rebellion in Fifties America included pop music’s unlikely challenge to entrenched notions of masculinity. Within that upheaval, four prominent artists dared to behave in ways that let the public assume—but not see—their queerness. Vincent L. Stephens confronts notions of the closet—both coming out and staying in—by analyzing the careers of Liberace, Johnny Mathis, Johnnie Ray, and Little Richard. As Stephens shows, the quartet not only thrived in an era of gray flannel manhood, they pioneered the ways generations of later musicians would consciously adopt sexual mystery as an appealing and proven route to success.

Find out more about obtaining your free ebook here: https://mailchi.mp/d9b272e09ca6/july21-free-ebook

The University of Illinois Press joins family and colleagues of Billie Jean Isbell, Professor Emerita at Cornell University, in mourning her passing on June 26. Her novel, Finding Cholita, a fictionalized ethnography exploring the long-term effects of chronic violence in the Ayacucho region, was published by Illinois in the series Interpretations of Culture in the New Millennium and was awarded honorable mention for the Victor Turner prize from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology in 2009. Series editor Norm Whitten shared: “Our long-time mutual colleague, Catherine (Kitty) Wagner, aptly summarizes Billie Jean’s extended career as ‘a consummate ethnographer and preeminent figure in Andean studies.’ It was my great privilege to be able to work closely with Billie Jean as she developed the successful experimental ethnograpy Finding Cholita when I edited the series.”

—Laurie Matheson, Director

We recently talked to co-authors Jonathan Wright and Dawson Barrett about their new book, Punks in Peoria: Making a Scene in the American Heartland.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

DAWSON: Though the book is not really autobiographical, Jonathan and I were both deeply involved in punk rock in Peoria as young people, so it was subject matter near to our hearts. We knew that there were stories to tell. I think what kept us going, though, was continuing to discover so much about people we didn’t know, who were doing some similar things long before, and after, we were. Punk rock scenes typically experience quick turn-over — perhaps a few years of peak participation for most people. That gives a pretty limited perspective. The longer view of the book has really shifted my understanding of Peoria and of what I was doing in my teen years.

JONATHAN: When I was promoting shows in my youth, I never would have imagined a book would come out of it! But I did believe that what we were doing was important – at least in some way, at least to some of us. The research and discovery that guided this project was the product of that same passion and commitment. This book is a celebration of “Anytown U.S.A.” – an acknowledgement that great art can come from the unlikeliest of places, and that the stories of small towns are just as alive and meaningful and significant as the ones that everybody knows.

Q: Who were your biggest influences?

DAWSON: One of the things that drove me was reflecting on the punk community that I encountered as a young person: the people who organized shows and put out records – or who fed me or let me sleep on their floor when I was in touring bands. Like so many other important things (education, for example), punk rock relies on vast amounts of often thankless, unpaid or underpaid labor. It’s a group effort that is a sort of collective gift to one another. Throughout this project, I have had on my mind the many people who provided that time and labor to my benefit. A few of them – including Jonathan – are even in the book!

JONATHAN: We are indebted and grateful for the kindness and generosity of our friends in the Peoria punk diaspora. We interviewed more than 70 people at length, solicited a public survey, and cajoled many others for photos, flyers and stories – then bugged them again with questions, permission forms, and more questions. As storytellers, our biggest influence was not so much a “who” as a “what”—the collective work of many, as opposed to any one individual. We wanted to create something that readers could enjoy even if they have never been to Peoria, weren’t in “the scene,” or are not familiar with any of the bands or musicians.

Jonathan Wright is a writer, editor, musician, and longtime veteran of the Peoria music scene. He is editor in chief at Peoria Magazines.

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book?

DAWSON: One of the “punk” venues we discuss (and where I myself played and witnessed some very wild shows in the late 1990s) was a quaint, aging cabin outside of Morton, Illinois. My favorite research discovery was that Jim Thorpe – Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon and pentathlon; professional football, basketball, and baseball player – had been the guest speaker at a youth sports banquet in that same small room a half-century earlier.

JONATHAN: There were so many discoveries – especially in the early stages when we were still trying to determine the scope of the book. Prior to our research, I knew virtually nothing about punk rock in Peoria in the 1980s – despite having been immersed in the scene just a few years later. Learning that the MC5 once played in Peoria was nothing short of a revelation. I also treasure the moment I came across a headline in Jet magazine about a 1962 Booker T & the MGs gig in Peoria, where a major brawl ensued when the band failed to show up. This Peoria non-show literally made national news! Many similar incidents would play out in the punk scene some 30 years later.

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn?

DAWSON: I think one of the big myths at the heart of US society is the existence of a legitimate meritocracy – that the many hierarchies of wealth, fame, and power all around us are important, natural, and unquestionable. Our bosses and political leaders are in charge because they deserve to be in charge, for example. Or famous writers, musicians, and other artists are popular because they are objectively “the best.” To the contrary, I think this story shows that even in a middle-of-the-road city like Peoria, there were dozens of wonderful and interesting bands throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Things like sales rankings and industry awards present a hollow, market-obsessed view of the world that completely misses how great and fun and creative these bands were. DIY punk rock often had a sort of anti-authoritarian message, but its very existence made a more basic argument, that anyone can – and should – create art for its own sake. I think that’s incredibly important.

JONATHAN: I concur and would add that, in spite of punk’s anti-authoritarian message, most of us who came up in the Peoria scene are more attuned to the values and institutions that build community. We took those DIY principles –working together and making things happen for the common good – and now apply them in our lives as adults.

Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from your book?

DAWSON: To me, the big idea of Punks in Peoria is that you can make something out of (almost) nothing. Peoria did not have a proper music venue. The young people in this book had to re-purpose local banquet halls, after-hours restaurants, and church basements to build a music scene. They were constantly scrounging, scheming, and compromising. It was an uphill struggle, and it was messy, but together they more or less made the case that we can build the world we want to live in, even when it seems like we’re starting from scratch.

JONATHAN: And it can happen anywhere.

Dawson Barrett is an associate professor of history at Del Mar College.

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun?

DAWSON: My media consumption has been all over the place during the pandemic, but I’ve been listening to Idles’ Joy as an Act of Resistance album and Hum’s Inlet almost daily. I have struggled to stay focused on most books, but I recently enjoyed Ballad of An American, a short graphic novel about Paul Robeson, and Kent State, also a graphic novel, about the 1970 shootings.

JONATHAN: I own some 9,000 vinyl records spanning the gamut of musical genres – in addition to my prodigious digital listening habits — so it’s hard to single anything out. I’ll say that my favorite record of 2020 was Zeal & Ardor’s “Wake of a Nation” EP, and I have leaned heavily on the familiar comforts of Bruce Springsteen over the last year. I recently read David Byrne’s How Music Works and Bill Brewster’s Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, and I am a big fan of Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever by Will Hermes. Catch me on a different day and my answer would be entirely different.


We recently talked to co-authors Kevin Mungons and Douglas Yeo about their new book, Homer Rodeheaver and the Rise of the Gospel Music Industry.


Q: Why did you decide to write this book—and how did you meet?

Both of us play trombone, so we naturally took interest in Homer Rodeheaver, who was Billy Sunday’s trombone-playing song leader. Doug had a long career as bass trombonist with the Boston Symphony; now he spends his days researching, writing, and teaching trombone at Wheaton College. Kevin is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has served many years as a church musician. We were introduced by a kindly archivist who said, “You guys are researching the same subject and asking the same questions—you should talk to each other.”

Q: Who were your biggest influences?

Each other! We’ve learned enormously from working together, approaching the same subject from different disciplines. And of course our best research models were published by University of Illinois Press, who already had several well-regarded books about gospel music. When it came time to pitch our project, we started with UIP at the top of our wish list, and we never had to go to Plan B.

Douglas Yeo was bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony and has taught trombone at Wheaton College and Arizona State University.

Q: Why is Homer Rodeheaver largely forgotten in gospel music history?

If we had lived in the early 1900s, we wouldn’t be asking this question! Homer Rodeheaver was everywhere—the front page of newspapers, hobnobbing with celebrities, appearing on recordings, radio and film. His Chicago-based hymnal company became the largest in the country. Then in 1920 he started Rainbow Records as the first Christian record label. His secret sauce was his valuable copyright catalog, including “The Old Rugged Cross,” “In the Garden,” and hundreds of other classic gospel songs. Maybe he’s forgotten because he didn’t fit into any of the emerging genres, newly defined by their racial and regional distinctions. In 1923 he walked into the studio with an African American ensemble to sing the spirituals—together. No one knew what to call it.

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book?

Everything is connected somehow. Gospel music is studied by scholars from several different disciplines, but they don’t often talk to each other! Lots of people are interested in Homer Rodeheaver’s life—musicologists, social historians, sound archivists, theologians, casual fans—and we hope that our interdisciplinary approach will help bridge a few gaps in the ongoing discourse.

Kevin Mungons is a writer for print and digital platforms and an editor at Moody Publishers.

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel? What do you hope readers will unlearn?

Here’s where it gets tricky. Gospel music is about the gospel, a transformational religious experience. Researchers are more comfortable addressing gospel music as a musical idiom, as a technological artifact, or as a social force that influences American culture. But Rodeheaver’s theological beliefs and devotional practices are a key part of his story. To be honest, if we were young academics finishing a dissertation or seeking tenure, we would avoid such a touchy subject. It would have been easier to show how all of these disciplines are different, but we took the road less traveled: How do these divergent ideas connect?

Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from your book?

Everyone remembers gospel music for its remarkable performances—and its huge regional and racial divide. Researchers are naturally drawn to those electrifying vocals from black gospel divas and southern gospel quartets. But long before these performances, the same songs were sung by congregations of 10,000 voices in wooden revival tabernacles. We care barely conceive of the impact because no one sings in groups like this anymore. Everything changed after World War I. The new technology of recordings, radio, and film would forever alter the way we perceive communal music experiences.

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun?

Both of us are oddly drawn to the same PBS documentaries. At night we’ll text each other and ask “Are you watching this?” and the answer is always yes. During the COVID season, we’ve both been living in our basements—spaces that are overtaken by shelves of books, music, and vintage recordings. Now we’re at work on a project for Archeophone Records, a 2-CD reissue of early Homer Rodeheaver recordings. You can’t fully understand gospel music by reading about it—you have to hear it, and sing it. Together!