Charles Hamm Award: Reebee Garofalo

by justindburton on April 3, 2012

The first Charles Hamm Award for career-long contribution to the study of popular music is awarded to Reebee Garofalo.

Reebee Garofalo has just retired from his post as professor at the College of Public and Community Service at University of Massachusetts at Boston, where he taught from 1978 until this past year.  Throughout that period, Reebee has been a tireless advocate for the field of popular music studies.  His first book, Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry (1977) (co-written with Steve Chapple) was the first serious study of the popular music industry.  A founding work of the field, this book remains required reading for anyone interested in the history of recorded music.  His more recent publications have focused on the intersection of music, identity and politics.  Rockin’ the Boat: Mass Music and Mass Movements (1992) collects essays from the first generation of popular music scholars, demonstrating the profound importance of music to the organization of mass feeling.  Reebee’s contributions to this work include a significant analysis of music of the Civil Rights Movement and an interrogation of the “mega-event” as politics and spectacle.  His textbook, Rockin’ Out: Popular Music in the USA (2010) is now in its fifth edition, evidence of its continued value in the classroom.  Throughout all of these works sparkles Reebee’s finely tuned sensitivity to the intricate intimacies of the political, the personal and the musical.

In addition to these (and other) significant publications, Reebee Garofalo has been a teacher, mentor and pathbreaker for many of us in popular music studies.  A member of the founding generation of IASPM, he provided leadership as President (then called Chair) of the US branch in its early years and continues to serve on the Executive Committee.   A source of wisdom, a model of integrity, and a masterful wielder of that crucial survival skill, the wry sense of humor, Reebee Garofalo has shown us what it means to be a politically committed, professionally attentive and personally attuned scholar.  Though eminent in his work, he has remained eminently approachable for all of us who follow his lead.  We are happy and proud to recognize the career-long contributions to popular music studies of Reebee Garofalo with the first Charles Hamm Award.

The Charles Hamm Award is named for one of the founding members of IASPM and the first President of IASPM-US.  With important books like Yesterdays: Popular Song in America (1979) and Putting Popular Music in its Place (1995), Hamm’s work set the tone and established the rigor for the scholarly investigation of popular music, helping to legitimate this young field of academic inquiry.  Hamm passed away in October, 2011.  This prize was established in his honor at the 2012 annual meeting of IASPM-US and will be awarded only when the Executive Committee of the organization deems it appropriate.

{ 1 comment }

Murray Forman April 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Bravo Reebee! A well deserved award in recognition of a lifetime of kicking ass and taking names…and drumming up a storm!

With thanks and respect for all the guidance, input and hanging out that you’ve shared over these years.
Murray Forman

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