Paper Session
Nov 21, 2021 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211121T1000 20211121T1050 America/Chicago Chicago Scenes AMS 2021
_New Music Chicago in Print_: Regionalism, Zine Culture, and Avant-Garde music in Chicago's North Side
Individual Paper 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 16:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 16:50:00 UTC

In 1982, the City of Chicago played host to an international avant-garde music festival called New Music America. While the New Music America Festival boasted an impressive line-up of composers and premiere performances of works by John Cage, Robert Ashley, Meredith Monk, and Steve Reich, most of the composers selected were not from Chicago, but from New York or San Francisco. Alene Valkanas and Peter Gena, key members of the New Music America program committee, rationalized their musical selections by suggesting that a community of new music composers and supportive audiences "had yet to develop in Chicago." Numerous composers raised objections to the notable absence of Chicago artists within New Music America and even staged their own simultaneously running festival in protest. 

Later that fall, Sheldon Atovsky, Deborah Campana, and Mitchell Arnold-members of the New Music ensemble Kapture-, formed New Music Chicago, an organization that attempted to construct a permanent local avant-garde scene. Their grassroots efforts are documented in a monthly zine called New Music Chicago in Print, which ran from 1982 until 1992. The magazine included exclusive content for members of the organization including essays, examples of newly published music, and extensive calendars documenting the numerous concerts staged by or in conjunction with the organization. This paper explores the foundation of this regional avant-garde music scene in Chicago's Loop and Near North neighborhoods during the early 1980s through an analysis of the concert calendars printed in the organization's early issues of the New Music in Print magazine. In addition, I draw upon archival materials found around the city of Chicago as well as oral history interviews with the first editors of the magazine. While scholars like George E. Lewis have already begun to examine Chicago's avant-garde jazz scene, this concert history, which focuses on a grassroots zine, is the first major study to examine avant-garde music on in the Near North Side of Chicago.

Nolan Vallier
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Florence Price, Blythe Owen, and Women’s Musical Clubs in Twentieth-Century Chicago: A Preliminary Investigation
Individual Paper 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 16:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 16:50:00 UTC

Recent years have seen a surge of interest in the life and works of African-American composer Florence Price (1887–1953), with the creation of recordings, score editions, and a music festival all focused on rehabilitating her place in our collective memory-and repertoire lists. One aspect of her life only briefly mentioned in Rae Linda Brown's highly anticipated biography, however, is Price's involvement with many women's musical clubs and sororities during her time in Chicago. These clubs provided invaluable financial, social, and professional support for Price and other female musicians in the Windy City throughout the twentieth century.

The papers of Blythe Owen (1898–2000), Price's colleague and friend, hold beneficial information that can clarify their professional relationship as well as their mutual affiliation with organizations such as the Chicago Musicians Club of Women, the Chicago Club of Women Musicians, the Women's Musical Club of Chicago, the Lake View Musical Society, the International Society for Contemporary Music, and the Chicago chapters of the Mu Phi Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Iota musician's sororities.

Between 1919 and 1964, Owen sent over 2,000 letters to her mother documenting her musical activities in Chicago, the persons she encountered, and her daily life as a composer, piano teacher, performer, and officer for multiple women's musical clubs. This correspondence is preserved in the Andrews University archives in Berrien Springs, MI along with scores, original musical manuscripts, photographs, concert programs, and other ephemera. 

These primary documents elucidate not only Owen's life and works, but also those of contemporaries such as Price. Owen's letters highlight the importance of women's musical organizations and professional networks in Chicago throughout the twentieth century. Preliminary investigation of the letters suggests that Owen, in her roles as a club president and officer of various organizations, may have been instrumental in championing interracial integration for Price and other African-Americans into women's musical clubs during an era when segregation was normal.

This presentation will explore the life and works of Price and Owen as they intersected in the context of the milieu of women's musical clubs in Chicago during the mid-twentieth century, and suggest further avenues for research.

Presenters Marianne Kordas
Andrews University
The Complex Vocality of Sallie Martin, Chicago Gospel Pioneer
Individual Paper 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 16:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 16:50:00 UTC

Sallie Martin (1896-1988) spent her childhood in Penfield, Georgia, then passed through Atlanta and Cleveland, Ohio, before arriving in Chicago in 1923. Non-musical jobs occupied her until the fortuitous day in 1929 when she met the future "Father of Gospel Music." For much of the decade of her business collaboration with Thomas A. Dorsey, Martin's deep contralto voice was the vocal foundation of the composer's female ensemble, which  introduced his rhythmicized, bluesy sacred song stylings to "open" and conservative congregations alike. Largely due to the Dorsey Quartette's song demonstrations in hundreds of black churches, gospel blues had tipped over from a nascent style to a nationwide phenomenon by 1939.

As blackness itself was debated, Martin's own Duboisian double consciousness was complicated by the very quality that had caught Dorsey's attention: her sanctified style of delivery which blended speaking, shouting, and singing. A dignified businesswoman, she quickly set Dorsey's haphazardly run  business aright, even as she regularly "rocked the house" with her performances of his songs. These dual strengths became her particular dilemma, one that has drawn attention in most assessments of her vocality. Dorsey captured the typical assessment that persists today: "Sallie can't sing a lick, but she can get over anywhere in the world." Evidently familiar with such commentary, Martin was known to quip, "If Mahalia [Jackson] is a Cadillac and Roberta [Martin] is a Buick, I'm just a Motel T Ford, but I make it over the hill without shifting gears, and that what counts, church, I make it over the hill."

In this paper, I query the "thick event" of Sallie Martin's performing voice, and in particular the bifurcated model of valuation articulated by Dorsey and reiterated by many others. Close examination of beloved Martin recordings, especially "Own Me as a Child" and "Dig a Little Deeper in God's Love," and theoretical framing of black vocalism by Pearl Williams-Jones, Nina Sun Eidsheim, and Alisha Lola Jones inform my assessment of the ways Sallie Martin's voice-a nexus of race, gender, persuasion, identity, and paternalism-has been and continues to be constructed by her listeners.

Kay Norton
Arizona State University
Arizona State University
Andrews University
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Florida State University
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