I am currently researching and performing on Beale Street, the Congressionally-decreed Home of the Blues, in Memphis, Tennessee. Here’s a fast and dirty first-person bio for y’all.
I started playing blues-based music throughout New England in 2000, and released six recordings between then and 2013. My band and I toured throughout the country, and I traveled to perform with musicians in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. I got to do some cool stuff, like open for B.B. King, Little Feat, and Johnny Winter, jam with Buddy Guy, appear on NBC’s Today Show, and play to thousands of people at the Waterfront Blues Festival in Oregon, the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Maine, and Montreal’s Festiblues. I really like Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and The Fieldstones, if you’re wondering what kinda blues I like to play.
While performing full time and teaching guitar and voice lessons, I grew increasingly curious about the subculture of blues musicians and fans as it pertains to race, region, nostalgia, taste, heritage, and popular music. So, I went to college. I earned an A.A. in Music from Middlesex Community College in 2011, where I received a Follett Scholarship and the Music Department’s award for Outstanding Performance. From there, I transferred to Smith College, the largest privately endowed college for women in the country, on an Ada Comstock Scholarship. In 2013 I received a Praxis Grant, which funded a summer internship in Washington, D.C. at Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. I graduated in December of 2013 with a B.A. in Music, a certification in Ethnomusicology, and the Harriet Dey Barnum Prize for Best All-Around Student of Music. My independent undergraduate work concentrated on race, gender, and (perceived) authenticity in modern blues music and the history of Beale Street.
So then I received a fellowship to attend graduate school at the University of Virginia (because why stop asking questions now!). While there, I was selected as a Praxis Fellow in Digital Humanities, won the AHSS grant for pre-dissertation summer research (on Memphis blues in the 1980s), earned an M.A. in Music, and served a two-year term as Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter for the Society of Ethnomusicology. I presented research in 2016 and 2017 at the MACSEM regional conference in Charlottesville, Virginia and the International Conference on the Blues in Cleveland, Mississippi.
I’m currently pursing my PhD in Critical and Comparative Studies at the University of Virginia. Come find me on Beale Street where I perform, research, and volunteer. Bring money for the tip bucket and your dancing shoes. 😉