Since 1982, musicians of national and international reputation have taught on the University of Alabama campus through the UA Endowed Chair through concerts, workshops, and lectures.

Originally, the Endowed Chair rotated annually among four areas: composition/theory, history/musicology, education/therapy, and performance. Since 1988, the Chair has rotated only among the first three areas, and there has been a smaller performance component each year.

Spring 2015 Endowed Chair in Musicology

“Music of Alabama and the American South before 1930”

Event Dates

January 23
February 13, 14
March 27, 28
April 10

Traditional and Popular Music, January 23

Speakers will present from 4-6:00 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Moody Music Building. Performers will perform in Bryant-Jordan Hall at 7:30 p.m. A reception will follow.


Joyce H. Cauthen

Director Emeritus of the Alabama Folklife Association, scholar Joyce H. Cauthen wrote With Fiddle and Well-Rosined Bow: The History of Old-Time Fiddling in Alabama, and published in 1989 by the University of Alabama Press. She also produced a related recording, Possum Up a Gum Stump: Home, Field, and Commercial Recordings of Alabama Fiddlers, to accompany it. For the Alabama Folklife Association she edited Benjamin Lloyd’s Hymn Book: A Primitive Baptist Song Tradition and produced an accompanying CD in 1999. Other CDs of Alabama-based music she produced include Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb: John Alexander’s Sterling Jubilee Singers of Bessemer and Bullfrog Jumped: Children’s Folksongs from the Byron Arnold Collection. She served as Executive Director of the Alabama Folklife Association, 2000-2010. In 2011 the Alabama State Council on the Arts honored her with a Governor’s Arts Award. Cauthen will be speaking about fiddles, fiddle music, and fiddle culture of west Alabama.

Chris Goertzen

Chris Goertzen, a student of Bruno Nettl, teaches music history and world music at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of Fiddling for Norway: Revival and Identity (1997), Southern Fiddlers and Fiddle Contests (2008), and Made in Mexico: Tradition, Tourism and Political Ferment in Oaxaca (2010). He is co-author of Good Medicine and Good Music: A Biography of Mrs. Joe Person, Patent Remedy Entrepreneur and Musician (2009) and co-editor of the Europe volume of the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (2000). Goertzen will be presenting the 19th-century origins of southern fiddle music.

Josephine Wright

Josephine Wright, Josephine Lincoln Morris Professor of Black Studies, Professor of Music and Chair of Africana Studies at the College of Wooster, earned her Ph.D. in Musicology from New York University. As Former Editor of American Music, she was the first woman and African American appointed editor to such a position from 1994 to 1997. A recognized scholar involved in organizations including the National Endowment of the Humanities, American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, her areas of study include African-American music, American music, women in music, and western music history, receiving several prestigious awards including the Clark Fund Award as well as The Henry Luce Award for Distinguished Scholarship. She is the author of African-American Traditions in Song, Sermon, Tale, and Dance, 1600s-1920: An Annotated Bibliography of Literature co-authored with Eileen Southern (1990) and Images: Iconography of Music in African-American Culture (1770s-1920s) (2000). Wright has been a member of the faculty of the College of Wooster since 1981. Wright will discuss African-American slave music of the 19th century as described in Works Progress Administration interviews of surviving ex-slaves in the 1930s.


Jim Holland

Jim Holland comes from two families of Alabama old-time musicians wielding fiddles, banjos, and the guitar. Jim’s father, with others, encouraged his neighbor musicians to “bring their music out of the kitchen” organizing several old-time contests in the early 1960’s, culminating in the Tennessee Valley Old-time Fiddlers Convention (TVOTFC). Jim is a regular at regional and national old-time competitions receiving awards at Uncle Dave Macon Days, The Appalachian String Band Festival, The Berkeley Old-time Music Convention, and of course his hometown competition, the TVOTFC. In addition to fiddle and old-time banjo, Jim learned an older style of guitar from his father, and other local musicians who were contemporaries of Alabama’s favorite singing guitar duo, the Delmore Brothers. Recent sharing opportunities included workshops at Breakin’ Up Winter, Lebanon, TN, The Folk School of Chattanooga, and the AlabamaFolk School.

Rising Star Fife and Drum Band

The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, led by Shardé Thomas (born 1990) is one of the few ensembles currently devoted to the American fife and drum blues tradition that used to be found across the Deep South in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Linking traditions of Central and West Africa, and Europe with that of the United States, fife and drum music has its origins in the armed forces for use in signaling the troops from the colonial period up to the American Civil War, as well as court ensembles of central Africa. Today the music is used for social events at picnics, barbecues, and other occasions. Thomas is the granddaughter of “Otha” Turner (1907-2003), a former Senatobia, MS farmer, performer, and maker of fifes fashioned out of river canes. Thomas has re-invigorated the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band and currently performs throughout the United States and abroad. Featured in numerous films and documentaries, including that by Martin Scorsese, the African American fife and drum tradition is one of the strongest links between musical practice in Africa and the United States. Consisting of fife, two snare drums, and bass drum, the band under Thomas was recently featured by the BBC News Magazine in June 2014. This performance will be a unique opportunity to hear one of the most distinctive traditional styles of music from the American South.

Religious Music, February 13 & 14

Speakers, February 13

Stephen Shearon

Stephen Shearon is a Professor of Musicology at Middle Tennessee State University and coordinator of graduate studies in the School of Music. In addition to his work on Neapolitan sacred music, he is currently engaged in the study of southern gospel convention singing, an amateur musical tradition based primarily in the southern United States. He will discuss the nineteenth-century origins of southern American gospel music, looking at singing schools and conventions.

David Warren Steel

David Warren Steel is professor of music at the University of Mississippi, and serves as area head for music history and literature, besides his affiliations with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the medieval studies minor. Steel will discuss two important traditions of sacred music in Alabama: African-American Baptist traditions of Alabama’s “Black Belt” region, and shape-note music from the songbook, The Sacred Harp.

Performers, February 13

The Gee’s Bend Quilter’s Collective

The Gee’s Bend Quilter’s Collective is located in Gee’s Bend, a small rural community located in a curve in the Alabama River in the northern part of Wilcox County. Long recognized for their quilting abilities they also have a strong tradition of singing spirituals rooted in their community’s history, frequently combining the two when engaged in creating quilts. Their demonstration will include a mixture of discussing their quilting and musical traditions.

Elder Luther Hicks

Elder Luther Hicks, formerly of the Sipsey River Association in the Black Belt Region of Alabama, is one of the practitioners of a style of music known as “Dr. Watts Singing,” or responsorial singing traditional to the United States. Originally found throughout Europe, this style of singing is now common to primitive Baptists, both of European and African ancestry. As one of the outstanding practitioners of this religious music, Hicks will be joined by several members of his community.

Shape-Note Sing, February 14

Coinciding with this month’s event is the 17th Annual Tuscaloosa Collegiate Sing, to be held at Canterbury Episcopal Chapel & Student Center (812 5th Ave., Tuscaloosa, AL) on February 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Singing will be from the Denson Revision (Red Book 1991, ed.). Lunch is provided.

Native American Music, March 27 & 28

Speakers, March 27

Victoria Lindsay Levine

Victoria Lindsay Levine teaches ethnomusicology and Southwestern Studies at Colorado College, where she has served as the Christine S. Johnson Professor of Music, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor, and the W. M. Keck Foundation Director of the Hulbert Center for Southwestern Studies. She will be speaking about Native American music of the southeast in historical perspective.

Gina Proctor

Gina Proctor attended Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, with degrees in Archaeology and History. With professional work as a lab technician and field archaeologist, her studies of Hopewell panpipes was inspired by a local major panpipe site, LeVesconte Mound. She will be presenting: “Music of the Spheres: Hopewell Panpipes in the Prehistoric American South”.

Performers, March 28

Mystic Wind Choctaw Social Dance Group

Founded in 2002, Mystic Wind Choctaw Social Dance Group comprise full blooded, enrolled members from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. The group travels to festivals, ceremonies, and stomp dances to share traditional Choctaw Social dances. Their mission is to preserve our traditions, language, and dances.

Billy Whitefox

Winner of the annual Native American Music award, Billy Whitefox is a Southeastern Muskogee Creek and a national champion flute maker. Whitefox shares his Creek ancestry through international recordings of Native American flute music and is an artist of the old-style ways of dance, storytelling, leatherwork, and more.

Cultivated Music, April 10


Candace Bailey

Candace Bailey research interests include British keyboard music of the 17th and early 18th century, as well as women and music in the antebellum American South. She is Professor of Music at North Carolina Central University and Visiting Professor at Duke University (2014-2015). She currently serves as President of the North American British Music Studies Association, a Board Member for the Mid-Atlantic Region College Music Society, on the Cultural Diversity Committee for the Society for American Music, and on the Editorial Board for the Web Library of Seventeenth-Century Music. Her presentation will focus on 19th-century women, music, and ideas of the parlor and European experiences.

Ann Ostendorf

Ann Ostendorf is an associate professor of history at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Her research explores how Americans grappled with musical diversity in the early national and antebellum eras with a specific focus on the lower Mississippi River Valley and New Orleans. The title of her presentation is “Identity, Politics and the Nation in the Music Culture of the Antebellum Lower Mississippi River Valley.”


Concert given by faculty and students of the Department of Music featuring art music by southern composers from the 18th and 19th centuries. Some works will receive their modern premiere at this performance, including pieces by antebellum composers at The University of Alabama.