2016 Nettl Lecture: Dr. Portia Maultsby — “Performing Blackness: Black Gospel Music in the Netherlands”

▪The Bruno and Wanda Nettl Distinguished Lecture in Ethnomusicology▪

Performing Blackness: Black Gospel Music in the Netherlands

Portia K. Maultsby, Laura Boulton Professor Emerita of Ethnomusicology
Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology
Indiana University


Since the 1990s, African American gospel music has become a global phenomenon. Its popularity across national, cultural, racial, ethnic, and religious boundaries has resulted in the proliferation of gospel choirs throughout the world. In this new context, Black gospel music is used in diverse ways and serves multiple functions, giving rise to localized meanings and performance expectations. Although African American expatriates occasionally serve as choir directors, many choirs are led by non-African American musicians.   With varying success, some directors strive to preserve “original” performance aesthetics and, often, the rituals associated with African American worship settings. Yet others reference black gospel music as inspiration to create localized religious expressions.

As a case study, my presentation will focus on Edith Casteleyn, the Euro-Dutch director of four choirs in the Netherlands performing what she describes as “authentic” Black American gospel music. Specifically, I will examine the processes for translating and negotiating differences in the musical values, cultural practices, religious orientations, and social conventions distinguishing African American and Dutch societies, and the way these differences impact the teaching, performance, and reception of gospel music in this new context.

4:30 PM

Friday, September 16, 2016

Music Building Auditorium
1114 W. Nevada St., Urbana, IL 61801

Free and open to the public

Sponsored by:

Center for Advanced Study
Department of African American Studies
Department of Anthropology
School of Music
European Union Center (Title VI Grant, Dept. of Education)



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