Who Hears Here?: On Black Music, Pasts and Present


Who Hears Here?: On Black Music, Pasts and Present

Who Hears Here?: On Black Music, Pasts and Present Volume 1


Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., is an award-winning musicologist, music historian, composer, and pianist whose prescient theoretical and critical interventions have bridged Black cultural studies and musicology. Representing twenty-five years of commentary and scholarship, these essays document Ramsey’s search to understand America’s Black musical past and present and to find his own voice as an African American writer in the field of musicology. This far-reaching collection embraces historiography, ethnography, cultural criticism, musical analysis, and autobiography, traversing the landscape of Black musical expression from sacred music to art music, and jazz to hip-hop. Taken together, these essays and the provocative introduction that precedes them are testament to the legacy work that has come to define a field, as well as a rousing call to readers to continue to ask the hard questions and write the hard truths.


“The essays gathered here provide evidence of what many of us have long known: Guthrie Ramsey is one of our most important scholars of Black music. As these essays demonstrate, he is deeply grounded in the cultures about which he writes, theoretically sophisticated, and always informed by history. They are the work of a fiercely courageous and insightful scholar, eloquent writer, and original thinker who forged a bold path for those that followed him.”–Farah Jasmine Griffin, author of Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature


“Guthrie Ramsey has culled his ultimate mixtape of essays in Who Hears Here? His prismatic essays are essential reading for anyone wanting to understand why they bob their head or move their feet while simultaneously asking the question: Why does this feel so damn good? Dr. Ramsey is uniquely positioned as the brilliant musician and scholar who can translate sound for us. Our music is lucky to have his ear and mind locate the metaphors that only show their face in a sound wave. I hear!”–Jason Moran, Artistic Director for Jazz, the Kennedy Center


“Guthrie Ramsey’s gift is in his sweep. He not only provides stunning insights into our country’s biggest debates about race, history, and American music, but he makes the case, point by point, page by brilliant page, of a Black critical tradition in musicology, and far beyond. I wish I had had this book at so many stages of my life to help me make sense of myself and our music, but it was well worth the wait. Epics arrive when we are ready to receive them.”–Salamishah Tillet, activist, scholar, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism


“Ramsey’s theoretical and critical interventions have not lost their edge. Reading these essays again, I am struck by how far ahead of his time he was when he first published them. They are just as insightful and pertinent as they were when they first appeared.”–Susan McClary, Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music, Case Western Reserve University


“Ramsey is keenly aware of, and able to articulate, how the stories we draw from our research are always about both our subjects and ourselves–and cannot be otherwise. That remarkable quality is on vivid display in this collection of articles and essays across three decades.”–Jeffrey Magee, author of The Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz