Nice article going around this week on one of the Willson Center Faculty Research Clusters projects focused on the behemoth that is the local musical traditions of Athens, GA:
The Athens Music Project will take into account the city's variety of African-American musical traditions, both secular and religious; its growing jazz scene; bluegrass and other folk music traditions; the Latin American/Latino musical community; new music and conceptual sound art; as well as Athens' historic role in both classical music and musical theater.
The cluster will be designed to take in contributions from a range of sources. Associated projects currently underway include a study of early music education in Athens by Stephanie Tingler, associate professor of music; a project by music graduate student Mary Helen Hoque focusing on George Davis, an African-American bandleader who formed the city's first civic band during Reconstruction; and research on John Vaughan, an early-20th century hymn composer whose Athens publishing house distributed music nationally, by Kevin Kelly, the Hodgson School's music librarian.
"Part of what we're doing is setting up an infrastructure to facilitate other people doing research," Thomas said, "whether that's our students, or whether it's people, both in the university and the community who already are doing that kind of work in a little vacuum so that we can give them a resonating space to share and showcase what they're doing.
There is much to unpack here, though Kidula and Thomas are scholars who have a taste for such heavy lifting, humanities-wise. Ambitious, unwieldy projects can often be difficult to wade into, but the richness of Athens music deserves the attention of our best ethnographers, which it will have in Kidula and Thomas. Congratulations to the Willson Center for inspiring our faculty, paving the way for wider and better understanding of our world.
Image: Co-directors of the Athens Music Project, Jean Kidula, left, and Susan Thomas. Photo by Jason Thrasher.