Academic journal article American Studies

Editor's Introduction

Academic journal article American Studies

Editor's Introduction

Article excerpt

Funk music contributed to three global forms of music: hip-hop, Afrobeat, and jazz. Funk is also closely related to go-go music, which is the brainchild of the late Chuck Brown. And the popular singer Janelle Monae reconstructs notions of funk and femininity in her music. Even the SF Jazz Collective, an all-star jazz ensemble, has recorded an album of Stevie Wonder's music. Yet relatively few scholars have examined funk music. The cumulative work that has been written about funk pales in comparison to scholarship on blues, jazz, and hip-hop, notwithstanding such recent studies as Francesca Royster's book Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era (2012) and Natalie Hopkinson's Go-Go Live!: The Life and Death of a Chocolate City (2012).

"The Funk Issue" therefore addresses a lacuna in critical writing on black music. The scholars herein examine the artistry and ethos of funk music as well as its impact on related black musical forms and black expressive culture generally. Yet no single cultural theory, methodology or ideology dominates this collec- tion. Like funk music itself, "The Funk Issue" is marked by contrasting points of view and varied methodologies. This collection is decidedly multi-disciplinary. The essays on the singer Betty Davis serve as perfect examples. In her article on Davis, Cheryl L. Keyes employs her training as an ethnomusicologist in her analysis, while art historian Nikki A. Greene demonstrates how Davis's aesthetic informs the visual art of Renée Stout. Likewise, the historian Scot Brown includes a seminal essay on the singer and multi-instrumentalist Roger Troutman. Three musicologists, Alex Stewart, Tammy Kernodle, and Steve Pond, have contrib- uted essays on Fela Kuti, Meshell Ndegeocello, and the nationally syndicated television show Soul Train, respectively. American Studies scholar Amy Wright examines the album covers of Parliament-Funkadelic. And four literary scholars, including the aforementioned Royster, Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Howard Rambsy, and Daylanne English have authored and/or co-authored essays. Royster examines funk and feminism in the women's group Labelle. …

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