On August 20,1920 singer Mamie Smith stepped into the Okeh Recording studio in New York City. She recorded two songs on that day, "Crazy Blues" and "It's Right Here for You." The session was the culmination of years of work undertaken by songwriter Perry Bradford, who had tried to no avail to convince recording companies to record black vocalists and musicians. Selling 75,000 copies within the first few months of its release, "Crazy Blues" sparked a new marketing strategy that would place black music at the center of a cultural revolution in the years directly following World War I. This talk will focus on how "Crazy Blues" reshaped America's consciousness about race, gender and popular culture.
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Tammy Kernodle is Professor of Musicology and has published widely on African American music, jazz, and gender and popular music. She is the author of the biography Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams (University of Illinois Press). In 2018 Professor Kernodle was awarded Miami University’s Benjamin Harrison Medallion, which is the highest award given to a Miami University faculty member in recognition of their research, teaching and service. She is currently the President of the Society for American Music.
Objects that Changed the World is a new collaboration between the Miami University Humanities Center and the Alumni Association. Featuring Miami’s nationally recognized faculty in the humanities, each lecture is inspired by an object of such prevalence today it might be easily overlooked and develops original insights and novel lessons about the object in question. We invite all alumni to reconnect with faculty and to show their support for the Humanities Center’s mission to advocate for the central place of the humanities in both the university and wider society.
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