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Keynote: Ann Powers

  • Thursday, March 30, 2017
  • 7:00 PM–8:15 PM
  • CFAC Recital Hall

Body and Soul: How Popular Music Bridges the Gap Between the Sacred and the Secular

American popular music originated from a fusion of the sacred and the secular, carrying forth messages of faith, joy and deep wisdom within frameworks built for dancing and carrying on. This has been true since enslaved African Americans danced and sang in both religious gatherings and in public spaces like Congo Squares in New Orleans; it was true in the Golden Age of gospel and at the birth of rock and roll, in the disco era and in the grunge 1990s; and it's true today in everything from Chance the Rapper's hip hop blessings to Solange's reenvisioning of soul. In a wide-ranging talk touching upon many different moments in popular music history, Ann Powers traces the spiritual thread in American secular music, and shows how it relates to sexuality, love and musical joy.

Ann Powers is a critic and correspondent for NPR Music. Previously she was a pop critic for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, a contributing writer to Rolling Stone, and an editor at the Village Voice. Her books include Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America (2000), Tori Amos: Piece By Piece (2005), and the forthcoming Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music (August 2017). She lives in Nashville with her husband and her teenage daughter, who plays drums in an all-female punk band.

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