The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University continued its new series of special “unconferences” on old-time music on Friday, March 12, this time bringing together a trio of experts to discuss race, class and gender with an enthusiastic audience.
“Old-Time Music in the 21st Century Unconference 2: Race, Class and Gender” featured musician and old-time and bluegrass music specialist and lecturer Tatiana Hargreaves; memoirist, music critic and University of Toledo English professor Kimberly Mack; and country music historian Amanda Marie Martinez.
Center director Greg Reish, a music scholar and old-time musician, and global history interdisciplinarian and musician Dan Margolies returned as hosts for this 90-minute virtual event.
You can watch the discussion in its entirety above.
Organizers gave their gatherings the “unconference” title intending to keep the get-togethers as “radically decentered conversations,” encouraging a core group of panelists to discuss each topic with audience members who tune in online.
This spring’s concluding “unconference” is set Friday, April 16.
The inaugural event Feb. 12 welcomed Grammy-winning musician Dom Flemons, author and professor Lydia Hamessley and John Fabke, manager of the CPM’s Grammy-winning Spring Fed Records label, and an enthusiastic online audience. That conversation is archived at https://youtu.be/9bcn47ePRYI.
March 12 guest Hargreaves is an award-winning fiddler who’s performed with a roster of artists that includes Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch and Laurie Lewis.
The Durham, North Carolina-based musician is currently working as a duo with banjoist Allison de Groot and teaches bluegrass fiddle at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Mack specializes in African American literature and culture, 20th- and 21st-century ethnic American literature, autobiographical narratives, and American popular music at the University of Toledo.
The Ohio resident’s published books include “Fictional Blues: Narrative Self-Invention from Bessie Smith to Jack White” and “The Untold History of Early American Rock Criticism.”
Martinez is completing her doctoral degree at the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she’s studying the intersection of race, capitalism and popular culture in the late 20th century and teaching courses in the department.
The LA resident’s dissertation looks at country music’s roots in Black, Indigenous and Latino music and how the industry “disregarded the music’s multiracial and multiethnic roots and embraced a politics of white conservatism.”
The Center for Popular Music at MTSU, part of the College of Media and Entertainment, is one of the world’s oldest and largest research centers devoted to studying American folk and popular music from the early 18th century to the present.
The center also develops and sponsors programs in American vernacular music and presents special concerts, lectures and events for the campus community.
For more information on the Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.
— Gina E. Fann (firstname.lastname@example.org)