Encyclopedia of African American Music

by Emmett G. Price III, Executive Editor
Tammy L. Kernodle and Horace J. Maxile, Jr., Associate Editors


Providing a lyrical history of our nation, this groundbreaking encyclopedia, the first of its kind, showcases all facets of African American music including folk, religious, concert and popular styles.

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Cover image for Encyclopedia of African American Music

December 2010


Pages 1116
Volumes 3
Size 7x10
Topics Race and Ethnicity/African American Studies

African Americans' historical roots are encapsulated in the lyrics, melodies, and rhythms of their music. In the 18th and 19th centuries, African slaves, longing for emancipation, expressed their hopes and dreams through spirituals. Inspired by African civilization and culture, as well as religion, art, literature, and social issues, this influential, joyous, tragic, uplifting, challenging, and enduring music evolved into many diverse genres, including jazz, blues, rock and roll, soul, swing, and hip hop. Providing a lyrical history of our nation, this groundbreaking encyclopedia, the first of its kind, showcases all facets of African American music including folk, religious, concert and popular styles. Over 500 in-depth entries by more than 100 scholars on a vast range of topics such as genres, styles, individuals, groups, and collectives as well as historical topics such as music of the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and numerous others. Offering balanced representation of key individuals, groups, and ensembles associated with diverse religious beliefs, political affiliations, and other perspectives not usually approached, this indispensable reference illuminates the profound role that African American music has played in American cultural history.

Editors Price, Kernodle, and Maxile provide balanced representation of various individuals, groups and ensembles associated with diverse religious beliefs, political affiliations, and perspectives. Also highlighted are the major record labels, institutions of higher learning, and various cultural venues that have had a tremendous impact on the development and preservation of African American music. Among the featured: Motown Records, Black Swan Records, Fisk University, Gospel Music Workshop of America, The Cotton Club, Center for Black Music Research, and more. With a broad scope, substantial entries, current coverage, and special attention to historical, political, and social contexts, this encyclopedia is designed specifically for high school and undergraduate students. Academic and public libraries will treasure this resource as an incomparable guide to our nation's African American heritage.


  • Advisory board of prominent scholars of African American music
  • More than 500 entries by more than 100 scholars
  • Many entries composed by world-renowned scholars and authors who have studied, researched, and written extensively on specific topics
  • Emphasis on the social and historical contexts of African American music through entries on significant musicians, social issues, political and legal concerns, and turning-point events ; Entries that cite numerous print and electronic resources for student research.
  • A selected, general bibliography of the most important works on African American music
  • Numerous illustrations
Author Info

Emmett G. Price III is assistant professor of music and African American studies at Northeastern University, Boston, MA. He is the author of Hip Hop Culture, The Black Church, Hip Hop Culture and the Dilemma, and serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, the academic journal for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. His work has appeared in African American Review, American Music, Ethnomusicology, International Jazz Archives Journal, GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal, NOTES: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, the Boston Herald and online at where he was a columnist for the internationally acclaimed website for two years with his research-based column Jazzology 300.

Tammy L. Kernodle is associate professor of musicology at Miami University, Oxford, OH. She has served as the Scholar in Residence for the Women in Jazz Initiative at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. Her work has appeared in Musical Quarterly and American Music Research Journal. She is the author of the biography Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams.

Horace J. Maxile, Jr. is assistant professor of music at The University of North Carolina at Asheville. Among his publications are articles in Perspectives of New Music and The American Music Research Center Journal. He has presented papers at a number of conferences and symposia including the Society for Music Theory, Society for American Music, and The International Symposium on Composition in Africa and the Diaspora.



"Although numerous African American-focused reference works cover music, this superb source admirably demonstrates the need for such a specialized work. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries."Library Journal, Starred Review

"In addition to the well-illustrated biographical and topical entries . . . the set includes a detailed time line, three appendixes, two selected bibliographies, and brief biographies of the editors and contributors. . . . Recommended."Choice

"The wonderful thing about these volumes is that they afford readers the opportunity to learn about long-forgotten or little-remembered artists who made major contributions to African American music."School Library Journal

"Impressive in scope, depth, and scholarship, this three-volume encyclopedia is broader, more extensive, and more up-to-date than reference works that have come before, finding room in particular for expansive coverage of contemporary music and thoughtful reexamination of connections with music of the past."Reference & Research Book News

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