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About African American Music Reference

1. About the Database

African American Music Reference will bring together 50,000 pages of text reference, biographies, chronologies, sheet music, images, lyrics, liner notes, and discographies which chronicle the diverse history and culture of the African American experience through music. The database is constantly expanding to include comprehensive coverage of blues, jazz, spirituals, civil rights songs, slave songs, minstrelsy, rhythm and blues, gospel, and other forms of black American musical expression.

The first release includes over 3,900 pages of reference, including a comprehensive set of biographies on the top 185 African American composers, edited by Samuel Floyd, Jr., as well as 5,000 pages of liner notes from Document Records. Other materials in this release include African American iconography, collections of spirituals and slave lyrics, and reference on important ensembles and musicians such as the Fisk Jubilee Singers,Jelly Roll Morton, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, and more.

As the database grows, we will supplement this material with other noted reference titles covering the histories of jazz, blues, bebop, hip hop, ragtime, gospel, and rhythm and blues, as well as a detailed chronology of African American events in music, links to web resources, searchable sheet music, and new reference titles such as Mingus: A Critical Biography (Brian Priestley), Billie Holiday: Wishing on the Moon (Donald Clarke), Jazzwomen: Conversations with 21 Musicians (Indiana University Press), Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker (Gary Giddins), The Holy Profane: Religion in Black Popular Music (Theresa L. Reed), Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life (Wynton Marsalis), and more.

This essential material will give students and scholars alike a deeper appreciation of the African American experience through music and its study. African American Music Reference is part of Alexander Street's Music Online, and subscribers to African American Song will be able to listen to all associated music that accompanies the liner notes and album information in the database. Content is added on a regular basis, and exciting new materials will be highlighted on the home page, so please check back regularly for updates.

2. Editorial Policy

We consulted several bibliographies in creating the database, and content selection is under the direction of our head Editorial Advisor, Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. of the Center for Black Music Research.

The aim of the collection is to bring together a wide range of materials, including comprehensive reference works, leading critical studies, biographies, oral histories, essays, anthologies, and historical works, together covering every genre and form, from Blues and Jazz to Hip Hop.

When complete, the database will provide the leading writings in the field so that scholars and students can appreciate the development of African American music from its beginnings to the present day. As a reference work, the database will grow to the largest, most functional resource for this area. Users will be able to use the material to enliven topics as wide ranging as Civil Rights, chain gangs, religious inspiration, plantation work, and more.

For every important performer and/or writer we have used standard bibliographies to identify materials.

Editorial Advisor

Dr. Samuel A. Floyd Jr. is the founder and Interim Executive Director for the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago. He has had articles published in several scholarly journals, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, Music Educators Journal, College Music Symposium, Music Journal, and The Black Perspective in Music. His published books include Black Music in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Reference and Research Materials (Kraus, 1983); Black Music Biography: An Annotated Bibliography (Kraus, 1987); Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance (Greenwood Press, 1990), for which he served as editor and which received the 1992 Irving Lowens Award; and The Power of Black Music (Oxford University Press, 1995). He served as Editor-in-Chief for the International Dictionary of Black Composers (Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1999). Dr. Floyd has taught at Florida A&M University, Southern Illinois University, Fisk University, and Columbia College Chicago.

3. Acknowledgements

At Alexander Street Press, the following people have been instrumental in the development of the collection:

  • Andrea Eastman-Mullins
  • Christina Chamberlain
  • Joanna Koslowsky
  • John Field
  • Liz Dutton
  • Michael Kangal
  • Ning Zhu
  • Pat Carlson
  • Paul Dixon
  • Roger Press
  • Stephen Rhind-Tutt
  • Tim Lloyd
  • Wendi Slagle
  • Will Whalen
  • Xochitl Tafoya
  • Young Park

4. MARC Records

MARC records are available for this collection.