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Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions--Francesca T. Royster in conversation with Daphne A. Brooks

Event date: 
Saturday, October 22, 2022 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm

This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. Register here. 

Charis welcomes Francesca T. Royster in conversation with Daphne A. Brooks for a discussion of Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions. After a century of racist whitewashing, country music is finally reckoning with its relationship to Black people. In this timely work—the first book on Black country music by a Black writer—Francesca Royster uncovers the Black performers and fans, including herself, who are exploring the pleasures and possibilities of the genre. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.

Informed by queer theory and Black feminist scholarship, Royster’s book elucidates the roots of the current moment found in records like Tina Turner’s first solo album, Tina Turns the Country On! She reckons with Black “bros” Charley Pride and Darius Rucker, then chases ghosts into the future with Valerie June. Indeed, it is the imagination of Royster and her artists that make this music so exciting for a genre that has long been obsessed with the past. The futures conjured by June and others can be melancholy, and are not free of racism, but by centering Black folk Royster begins to understand what her daughter hears in the banjo music of Our Native Daughters and the trap beat of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” A Black person claiming country music may still feel a bit like a queer person coming out, but, collectively, Black artists and fans are changing what country music looks and sounds like—and who gets to love it.

Francesca T. Royster is a professor of English at DePaul University, author of Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era and Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon, and coeditor of “Uncharted Country,” a special issue of the Journal of Popular Music Studies on race and country music.

Daphne A. Brooks is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Music at Yale University. She is the author of Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910, winner of The Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship on African American Performance from ASTR, Jeff Buckley’s Grace and Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound, winner of numerous awards including the 2021 Museum of African American History (MAAH) Stone Book Award. Brooks is a 2022-2023 Guggenheim Fellow as well as an 2022-2023 NYPL Cullman Center Fellow. Brooks has authored numerous articles on race, gender, performance and popular music culture, and she is the author of the liner notes for The Complete Tammi Terrell (Universal A&R, 2010) and Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia (Sony, 2011), each of which has won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for outstanding music writing, and her liner notes essay accompanying recordings by Prince and by Nina Simone were each published in 2020. From 2016-2018, she served as the co-editor of the 33 1/3 Sound: Short Books About Albums series published by Bloomsbury Press. She is the co-founder and co-director of Yale University’s Black Sound & the Archive Working Group, a 320 York Humanities Initiative. Her writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe NationThe GuardianPitchfork, and other press outlets.

This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CharisCircle?code=chariscirclepage

Please contact us at info@chariscircle.org or 404-524-0304 if you would like ASL interpretation at this event. If you would like to watch the event with live AI captions, you may do so by watching it in Google Chrome and enabling captions: Instructions here. If you have other accessibility needs or if you are someone who has skills in making digital events more accessible please don't hesitate to reach out to info@chariscircle.org. We are actively learning the best practices for this technology and we welcome your feedback as we begin this new way of connecting across distances.

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Event address: 
CROWDCAST
Pre-Order Now Badge
Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions (American Music Series) By Francesca T. Royster Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781477326497
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: University of Texas Press - October 4th, 2022

After a century of racist whitewashing, country music is finally reckoning with its relationship to Black people.


Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound By Daphne A. Brooks Cover Image
$39.95
ISBN: 9780674052819
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Belknap Press - February 23rd, 2021

Winner of the PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award
Winner of the MAAH Stone Book Award
A Rolling Stone Best Music Book of the Year
A Pitchfork Best Music Book of the Year


Pre-Order Now Badge
Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance By Francesca T. Royster Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781419756177
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Abrams Press - February 7th, 2023

A brilliant literary memoir of chosen family and chosen heritage, told against the backdrop of Chicago’s North and South Sides

As a multiracial household in Chicago’s North Side community of Rogers Park, race is at the core of Francesca T. Royster and her family's world, influencing everyday acts of parenting and the conception of what family truly means.


Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 By Daphne A. Brooks Cover Image
$36.74
ISBN: 9780822337225
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Duke University Press - July 18th, 2006

In Bodies in Dissent Daphne A. Brooks argues that from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, black transatlantic activists, actors, singers, and other entertainers frequently transformed the alienating conditions of social and political marginalization into modes of self-actualization through performance.


Jeff Buckley's Grace (33 1/3 #23) By Daphne A. Brooks Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780826416353
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Continuum - April 28th, 2005

The power and influence of Grace increases with each passing year. Here, Daphne Brooks traces Jeff Buckley's fascinating musical development through the earliest stages of his career, up to the release of the album.


Event Summary: 
After a century of racist whitewashing, country music is finally reckoning with its relationship to Black people. In this timely work—the first book on Black country music by a Black writer.