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Nov 20, 2021 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1600 20211120T1650 America/Chicago The Contrapuntal Lives of Chicago’s Race Women

The Contrapuntal Lives of Chicago's Race Women

Race women-that is, Black women intellectuals and creatives committed to the entwined tasks of racial uplift and gendered progress-transformed interwar Chicago's civic and social spheres. The South Side was a locus of activity; therein, Race women's labor unfolded across an array of public and private settings, from dining rooms to church halls, from school auditoriums to the Wabash Avenue YMCA. They pursued their work with simultaneous independence and interconnectedness, rendering women's leadership inseparable from community building. Music filled these spaces, acting as a binding agent in the formation of the South Side's associational and institutional structures. 

Through my scholarship and the pieces I have selected to perform, I bring into focus three multifaceted practitioners: Nora Douglas Holt (ca. 1885–1974), Florence B. Price (1887–1953), and Betty Jackson King (1928–1994). Holt arrived in Chicago from her native Kansas in the first decade of the twentieth century. She belonged to the foundational generation of early twentieth-century Chicago's Black classical community. Price, while of Holt's generation, arrived in Chicago two decades later during the Great Migration. King, of the next generation, was born in Chicago and, to her advantage, born into an existing infrastructure that supported Black concert life and communal music-making. I map the Chicago scenes and sites of their interactions and demonstrate how their individual aspirations as civic-minded, socially aware classical practitioners sounded in tandem with the multigenerational chorus of Race women's collective concerns and ambitions. 

My recital program spotlights three works that are explicitly linked to Ch ...

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org

The Contrapuntal Lives of Chicago's Race Women

Race women-that is, Black women intellectuals and creatives committed to the entwined tasks of racial uplift and gendered progress-transformed interwar Chicago's civic and social spheres. The South Side was a locus of activity; therein, Race women's labor unfolded across an array of public and private settings, from dining rooms to church halls, from school auditoriums to the Wabash Avenue YMCA. They pursued their work with simultaneous independence and interconnectedness, rendering women's leadership inseparable from community building. Music filled these spaces, acting as a binding agent in the formation of the South Side's associational and institutional structures. 

Through my scholarship and the pieces I have selected to perform, I bring into focus three multifaceted practitioners: Nora Douglas Holt (ca. 1885–1974), Florence B. Price (1887–1953), and Betty Jackson King (1928–1994). Holt arrived in Chicago from her native Kansas in the first decade of the twentieth century. She belonged to the foundational generation of early twentieth-century Chicago's Black classical community. Price, while of Holt's generation, arrived in Chicago two decades later during the Great Migration. King, of the next generation, was born in Chicago and, to her advantage, born into an existing infrastructure that supported Black concert life and communal music-making. I map the Chicago scenes and sites of their interactions and demonstrate how their individual aspirations as civic-minded, socially aware classical practitioners sounded in tandem with the multigenerational chorus of Race women's collective concerns and ambitions. 

My recital program spotlights three works that are explicitly linked to Chicago: Holt's _Negro Dance_ (1921), Price's _Fantasie Nègre_ No. 4 in B Minor (1932), and King's _Four Seasonal Sketches_ (1955). Themes of independence, interconnectedness, and exchange surface in my discussion of the purposes for which these pieces were written, the idioms that distinguished their authorship, and the technical training that grounded their language. In addition to the centrality of Chicago's public and private domains, I assert that compositions are also key scenes and sites wherein we may look and listen for how Chicago's Race women articulated the world around them, the world within them, and the forces that brought them into orbit with one another.


Program

Negro Dance by Nora Douglas Holt (2 minutes)

Fantasie Nègre No. 4 in B Minor by Florence B. Price (10 minutes)

Four Seasonal Sketches by Betty Jackson King (8 minutes)

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