Maureen Mahon will deliver a lecture titled “And the Colored Girls Go: African American Women Vocalists and the Sound of Race, Gender, and Authenticity in Rock and Roll” at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, in the Arthur Zankel Music Center on the Skidmore College campus. The talk is the latest in Skidmore’s Tsou Music Scholar Series.
Mahon, a professor at New York University, is a cultural anthropologist who studies African American music and culture; the construction and performance of race and gender in music; and the relationship between race, class, generation, and culture. She is the author of a book called Right to Rock: The Black Rock Coalition and the Cultural Politics of Race (Duke University Press, 2004), and has published articles in American Ethnologist; Journal of Popular Music Studies; Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture; and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. Mahon’s many fellowships include a 2013-14 National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship.
The lecture will focus on the experiences and musical style of African American women including P.P. Arnold, Ava Cherry, Merry Clayton, Venetta Fields, Gloria Jones, Clydie King, Claudia Lennear, and Doris Troy. In the late 1960s and 1970s these artists collaborated with such musicians as David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. Mahon will demonstrate how the African American women helped create the “authentic” sound sought by the white artists with whom they worked. She hopes to highlight the intersection of race, gender, and authenticity in the music of the classic rock era and draw attention to “an under acknowledged aspect of black women’s cultural production.”
Judy Tsou, a member of Skidmore’s Class of 1975 established the Tsou Music Scholar Series to provide both formal and informal interaction of music students with prominent music scholars. The series is designed to extend Skidmore students’ musical education and to provide an introduction to prominent scholars and their work.
Admission for the Thursday, Oct. 2, event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For advance reservations or more information, visit www.skidmore.edu/zankel or call the Zankel Box Office at (518)-580-5321. The Zankel Music Center is wheelchair accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired.