POSTPONED | Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues with John Davis

Due to the impending storm, all events associated with Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues are canceled for Tuesday, March 14. The exhibit opening & reception and concert performance will be held on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. The symposium will be scheduled for a later date.

On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, the Brown University Library will host two events related to the exhibition entitled, Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues, conceived and curated by Brown graduate, pianist John Davis ’79. The exhibit will run from March 14 to May 5, 2017.


Exhibition Opening & Reception

The exhibit opening and reception will take place in the Exhibition Gallery of the John Hay Library from 4 – 5:30 p.m. The exhibit, Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues, is an in-depth survey of the African American roots of popular music and show business in the United States. The exhibition includes significant and visually arresting printed artifacts of the shared African- and European-based musical tradition established in colonial America, a cultural synthesis that continues to shape our nation’s identity. The 19th- and early 20th-century books, sheet music, and ephemera included in the exhibition are drawn primarily from the personal collection of John Davis (Exhibition Curator) and the holdings of the Brown University Library. Mr. Davis’ archive of rare 19th-century printed musical African Americana, widely respected in the antiquarian book and ephemera world, is the bedrock of his career as a concert pianist devoted to works influenced by black culture of the American South.


John Davis; photo by John Halpern

Drawing from materials on display in the exhibition, Mr. Davis will give a multi-media concert performance entitled Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues: A musical journey with pianist John Davis at 7 p.m. at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. The concert, organized with the Brown Music Department, will include special guests Harmonizing Grace, with Hance Phillipe, director, and the Old-Time String Band–both Brown student music groups.

The exhibition and all related events on March 14 are free and open to the public. No registration or ticketing is required.


Postponed. The Library will share a date for this event as soon as it has been rescheduled.

Organized and moderated by Tony Bogues, Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory and Director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown, the symposium will feature panelists John Davis; Eric Lott, author and Professor of American Studies at The Graduate Center, City University of New York; and Brandy Monk-Payton AM’12, PhD’16, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College.

See below for additional information about the panelists.


Eric Lott

Eric Lott, Professor of American Studies, the Graduate Center, CUNY

Eric Lott teaches American Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has written and lectured widely on the politics of U.S. cultural history, and his work has appeared in a range of periodicals including The Village Voice, The Nation, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Transition, Social Text, PMLA, Representations, American Literary History, and American Quarterly. He is the author of Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (Oxford UP, 1993), from which Bob Dylan took the title for his 2001 album “Love and Theft”; a twentieth-anniversary edition appeared in the summer of 2013. Lott is also the author of The Disappearing Liberal Intellectual (Basic Books, 2006), a book of which Russell Jacoby strongly disapproved. Lott’s study of race and culture in the long twentieth century, Black Mirror: The Cultural Contradictions of American Racism, will appear in 2017 from Harvard University Press. He is a co-director of the Dartmouth Futures of American Studies Institute and a lifetime member of the American Studies Association.

Brandy Monk-Payton

Brandy Monk-Payton, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Leslie Center for the Humanities, Dartmouth College

Brandy Monk-Payton is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow associated with the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College. She obtained her Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University where she was a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow and a Graduate Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. Her work on race and representation has been published in the edited collection From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry as well as the journals The Black ScholarReconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, andFeminist Media Histories (forthcoming). She is currently working on her first book project Dark Optics: Blackness, Exposure, and Celebrity in Media Culture. In Fall 2017, she will begin a position as Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University.

Event 1: Exhibit Opening Reception
Time: 3:30 – 5 p.m.
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Event 2: Concert Performance
Time: 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, 154 Angell Street, Providence