Sonic Borders Virtual Panel: Tara Betts, “They Do Not All Sound Alike: Sampling Kathleen Cleaver, Assata Shakur, and Angela Davis”

by justindburton on February 18, 2013

SO IASPM7

IASPM-US and Sounding Out! are proud to bring you a collaboration that represents the first official panel of the the 2013 IASPM-US conference. While the rest of the conference will be held in Austin, TX (2/28-3/3), this first panel will feature six essays from Sounding Out! and four from IASPM-US during the months of January and February – a discourse in cyberspace that addresses and enacts the theme of the conference, “Liminality & Borderlands.” “Sonic Borders” features scholars from sound studies and popular music studies (many of whom work in both disciplines) discussing the two disciplines’ shared principles, disparate ideologies, and un/common purposes. The results should be exciting, as we invite not only the panelists to contribute their essays but also conference participants and readers of both sites to join in the conversation as we prod the connective tissue of popular music studies and sound studies.

Many thanks to the three co-founders of Sounding Out!Liana Silva, Managing Editor, Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, Editor-in-Chief, and Aaron Trammell, Multimedia Editor, as well as Kwame Harrison, chair of the IASPM-US conference program committee, and all of our panelists. A full schedule will be included at the bottom of each essay we publish to this site.

Today’s post at Sounding Out! comes from Tara Betts, who listens to the voices of three black activist women as their voices are sampled in a selection of hip hop songs.

Davis, Cleaver, and Assata Shakur are arguably the three most iconic women of the Black Power Movement, but they largely go unrecognized in mainstream history. Erasure by omission represents how many historical sources are resistant to identifying their specific contributions to grassroots organizing, intellectual life, and politics, while the male leadership of the Black Power Movement is often mentioned by name.  So, the inclusion of Davis, Cleaver, and Shakur in songs by hip hop artists P. Blackk, John Forté, andCommon simultaneously amplifies the distinctiveness of their voices while signaling conscious choices by younger male artists to align themselves with the political thinking espoused by these radical women in politically-rooted, layered tracks–even as these samples inadvertently reveal the mainstream public’s tendency to treat black female activists as interchangeable.  Both in their moment and in its sampled echoes, these women resist being grouped into an amorphous group of misconstrued black people, and these tracks highlight that.

Sonic Borders Schedule

1/21 – Liana Silva, Sounding Out! – “I’m on My New York Sh*t”: Jean Grae’s Sonic Claims on the City

1/28 – Regina Bradley, Sounding Out! – I Like the Way You Rhyme, Boy: Hip Hop Sensibility and Racial Trauma in Django Unchained

2/4 – Marcus Boon, Sounding Out! – One Nation Under a Groove?: Music, Sonic Borders, and the Politics of Vibration

2/6 – Barry Shank, IASPM-US – On Popular Music Studies

2/11 – Tavia Nyong’o, Sounding Out! – Freedom Back: Sounding Black Feminist History, Courtesy the Artists

2/13 – Theo Cateforis, IASPM-US – No Control, or: How I Learned to Start Worrying about Sound

2/18 – Tara Betts, Sounding Out! – They Do Not All Sound Alike: Sampling Kathleen Cleaver, Assata Shakur, and Angela Davis

2/20 – Shana L. Redmond, IASPM-US

2/25 – Airek Beauchamp, Sounding Out!

2/27 – Devon Powers, IASPM-US

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