New Shades of Blue

November 12, 2014 (Wednesday) / 5:00 pm6:30 pm

Rainey Auditorium, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street

New Shades of Blue

Black Women Singers in the 1970s

Farah Jasmine Griffin

William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies, Columbia University

In the same years that black women writers were emerging as major innovators in American literature, black women singers like Syreeta Wright, Minnie Riperton, and Deniece Williams were forging new pathways in American music, rethinking traditional ideas about race and women's vocality. Farah Jasmine Griffin, whose latest book is Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II, will play some of the great recordings from the mid–1970s and discuss their cultural significance.

Farah Jasmine Griffin teaches English, comparative literature, and African American Studies at Columbia University, where she also served as director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies.

In addition to editing several collections of letters and essays, she is the author of Who Set You Flowin': The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001), and Clawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne, 2008). She also wrote "A Conversation with Mary Lou," a stage tribute to jazz legend Mary Lou Williams, presented at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse in New York in March 2014.

Griffin took her B.A. from Harvard and Ph.D. from Yale. Her major fields of interest are American and African American literature, music, history, and politics. The recipient of numerous honors and awards for her teaching and scholarship, in 2006-2007 Professor Griffin was a fellow at the New York Public Library Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.