It has been quite a year for the Orangeburg MUSIC Project. Inaugural project research intern Akilah Morgan got not one but TWO abstracts accepted for conferences in a single semester. Both conferences primarily involve professors and graduate students as presenters, so these are big opportunities for her.
She warmed up for the big shows with a local audience at Claflin University’s first annual Symposium on Popular Music, which I mentioned elsewhere. Her talk was entitled, “The Orangeburg MUSIC Project: Studying Musical Traditions in a Changing City.” The event coincided with Black History Month on the Claflin campus. It was a great fit for Akilah’s work and an excellent opportunity for the audience to learn about the project. The Q&A was really productive within the music curriculum, for Akilah, and for the Project. Moreover, it was a good step toward these other presentations in the drafting process.
The first off-campus conference was in Knoxville for the annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Southeast and Caribbean Chapter (SEMSEC). I was so thrilled to see the Program Committee choose her work from a very competitive pool of abstracts. Akilah, for her part, made some good revisions for that presentation and represented both Claflin and the Project well. UT-Knoxville and the SEMSEC Local Arrangements Committee put a fantastic meeting together, complete with a brilliant talk by Jonathan Ritter and a performance by Dom Flemons.
The second presentation is coming up this week at Northern Illinois University’s Teaching World Music Symposium. This one will be a joint presentation entitled, ““The Orangeburg Musicians’ Integrative Community Project: Cultural Survey Work and Undergraduate Research Infrastructure.” Akilah will present the preliminary results of the Project in truncated format, I will give an overview of the broader project and its pedagogical value for our students, and then we will come back to Akilah and how her career trajectory has been shaped by the experience of doing some baseline cultural survey work.
It is an enormous privilege to be taking this work out for its first forays into broader academic spheres. It would not be possible without the continuing support of the Office of the Provost–in particular the seed grant program–as well as the Center for Excellence in Teaching and the Department of Music for research, travel, logistical, and many other forms of support. By fall 2015, we hope to snag some external funding. Stay tuned for more regarding a few developing community partnerships that will render some other developments possible!