Alice Randall, the award-winning author, songwriter, and writer-in-residence in African American and diaspora studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, taught a three-hour weekly seminar this past semester entitled “African American Presence and Influence in Country Music.”
The class used mapping technology to trace the progress of African Americans in country music. “My students interviewed songwriters, producers, and musicians as they researched the African American presence in country music that began in the early 1900s all the way to the present,” Professor Randall said. “Vanderbilt is located in Nashville, the epicenter of Black presence and influence in country music past and present, providing unique opportunities for undergraduate field research on our campus.”
“Evolving mapping technology created an opportunity for students to easily organize materials in new and significant ways that suggest areas for future research and creative opportunities for music fans to use music as entry into understanding complexities of race, race representation, and racial erasure in America,” Randall added.
Alice Randall, a graduate of Harvard University, is the author of four novels including The Wind Done Gone (Houghton Mifflin, 2001), a parody of Gone With the Wind.