Skip to main content
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Tammy L. Kernodle | James W. Pruett Lecture

January 26 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Tammy Kernodle

Dr. Tammy L. Kernodle presents the 2024 James W. Pruett Lecture in Music and Culture

“You Can’t Tell It Like I Can: Mary Lou Williams, Black Nationalism, and the Re-framing of Jazz’s History”

One of the significant aspects of contemporary jazz scholarship has been its role in illuminating how the jazz community aligned itself with the activity and ideology that defined the mid-century black civil rights movement. The framing of this epoch has largely centered on the relationships musicians formed with movement organizations (e.g., SNCC, CORE, SCLC), how liberation ideology informed the creation of specific works, and how the musical experimentation of the jazz avant garde exemplified the radicalness of the movement. This lecture extends beyond these narratives to consider how black intellectuals, writers, and musicians aligned their work with the cultural ideologies that extended out of the Black Nationalist Movement and challenged the politics of erasure that surrounded the construction and promotion of jazz’s historiography during the decades that followed World War II. It specifically focuses the cultural work of pianist/composer/arranger Mary Lou Williams during the 1970s and her personal crusade to “save jazz” through the nurturance of a new generation of musicians and listeners. Key to this work was her re-framing of jazz’s history through the act of what scholar Sherrie Tucker calls “telling performance,” which privileged Williams’ engagement with specific cultural sites, jazz communities, and mastery of various sub-genres of music as the basis for a more inclusive understanding of the genre’s evolution. Although Williams is often excluded from discussion surrounding the black civil rights movement and jazz, her work paralleled that of black women activists and provide another means for understanding how black women centered themselves within the ideological framework and infrastructure of social movements during the 1960s and 1970s.

Dr. Tammy L. Kernodle is University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Music at Miami University, who specializes in African American music (concert and popular) and gender studies in music. She is also an affiliate of the American Studies Program, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Program, and the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program.

Her scholarship explores the intersection of the politics that surround gender and racial identity, performance practice and genre. Her work has appeared in major peer-reviewed journals including American Studies, Musical Quarterly, Black Music Research Journal, The Journal of the Society of American Music (JSAM), American Music Research Journal, The U.S Catholic Historian, and the Journal of the American Musicological Society (JAMS). She also was a contributor to The African American Lectionary Project, the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip Hop and Rap and the Carnegie Hall Digital Timeline of African American Music. Her scholarship also appears in numerous anthologies and reference works including Women’s Voices Across Musical Worlds, John Coltrane and Black America’s Quest for Freedom: Spirituality and the Music, and The Cambridge Companion to Women in Music Since 1900.

Kernodle is the author of biography Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams, served as Associate Editor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of African American Music and was also one of the Editors for the revision of the New Grove Encyclopedia of American Music.

Kernodle served as the Scholar in Residence for the Women in Jazz Initiative at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City from 1999 until 2001. She has worked closely with a number of educational programs including the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, Jazz@Lincoln Center, NPR, Canadian Public Radio, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and BBC. Kernodle is currently serving as scholarly consultant with New World Symphony’s Harlem Renaissance initiative, which seeks to elevate the music and voices of black artisans.

From 2012-2016, Kernodle served as a scholarly consultant for the exhibits entitled “Musical Crossroads” at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. She appears in a number of award-winning documentaries including Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band and Girls in the Band, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, and How It Feels to Be Free.

In 2014, she received the Effective Educator Award from the Miami University Alumni Association and in 2018 was awarded the Benjamin Harrison Medallion. The Harrison Award is the highest award given to a Miami University faculty member in recognition of their research, teaching and service. In 2021 she was promoted to the rank of University Distinguished Professor. She is the Past President of the Society for American Music.

This lecture is part of the 2023-2024 UNC Music Research Forum.


January 26
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Categories:
, ,


Person Hall
181 E Cameron Ave
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
+ Google Map

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.