Representing Black Music Culture

Then, Now, and When Again?

By (author) Bill Banfield

Paperback - £35.00

Publication date:

07 October 2011

Length of book:

312 pages


Scarecrow Press

ISBN-13: 9780810877863

In this collection of essays, interviews, and profiles, William Banfield reflects on his life as a musician and educator, as he weaves together pieces of cultural criticism and artistry, all the while paying homage to Black music of the last 40 years and beyond. In Representing Black Music Culture: Then, Now, and When Again?, Banfield honors the legacy of artists who have graced us with their work for more than half a century.

The essays and interviews in this collection are enhanced by seven years of daily diary entries, which reflect on some of the country's most respected Black composers, recording artists, authors, and cultural icons. These include Ornette Coleman, Bobby McFerrin, Toni Morrison, Amiri Baraka, Gordon Parks, the Marsalis brothers, Spike Lee, Maya Angelou, Patrice Rushen, and many others. Though many of the individuals Banfield lauds are well-known to most readers, he also turns his attention to musicians and artists whose work, while perhaps unheralded by the world at large, are no less deserving of praise and respect for their contributions to the culture. In addition, this volume is filled with candid photographs of many of these fellow artists as they participate in expressive culture, whether on stage, on tour, in clubs, behind the scenes, in rehearsal, or even during meals and teaching class.

This unique book of essays, interviews, diary entries, and Banfield's personal photographs will be of interest to scholars and students, of course, but also to general readers interested in absorbing and appreciating the beauty of Black culture.
Banfield (Africana studies/music & society, Berklee Coll. of Music) has a singular perspective on the recent history of African American popular music. As a professor, composer, jazz guitarist, and recording artist, he has witnessed the rise and (he argues) the fall of black music from the early 1960s to the present. The format of the book is also distinctive, as Banfield collects essays, interviews with many key musical figures, and selections from several years of his personal journal. In doing so, he paints a vivid picture of the development of and trends in the music that have led up to the current rap scene and pressure on artists to become publicity sensations rather than bona fide musicians. VERDICT Rather than scholarly and dry, this thought-provoking, readable book asks valid questions and portrays a once thriving, creative musical community that has somewhat lost its way. Recommended for all African American music collections.