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Prof. Liz Przybylski (UC Riverside): Hip Hop Dialogues: Unsettling Collaboration

Event Start: 
Fri, 03/02/2018 - 4:00pm
701C Dodge Hall (The Center for Ethnomusioclogy)
The Center for Ethnomusicology presents a colloquium with:

Liz Przybylski
(Assistant Professor of Music, U. California, Riverside)

Hip Hop Dialogues:
 Unsettling Collaboration

Friday March 2, 2018
701C Dodge Hall (Center for Ethnomusicology)
Free and open to the public!

In January 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba was identified as the most racist city in Canada. Yet, for Canada’s 2017 sesquicentennial, a vocal group from Winnipeg, Camerata Nova, was chosen to showcase Indigenous music and model Indigenous/Settler relationships for national reconciliation. With Cree composer Andrew Balfour as artistic director, the group presented the show Taken. The performances in Winnipeg and Ottawa form the musicians’ contribution to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Like many settler-colonial states, Canada is currently wrestling with the past, present, and future of relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens. Government efforts to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children included more than one hundred years of compulsory Indian Residential Schools in which children were removed from their families, languages, and cultural practices. Often using music as a centerpiece of public events, the TRC investigated abuses children suffered when separated from their families and offers a concrete plan for the nation to redress past harms. Camerata Nova participates in the current Canadian dialogue, which offers a still-contested model for other settler-colonial states.

Taken features collaborative new compositions that incorporate the living lineage of Canadian Indigenous music. In these performances, rapper Eekwol (Muskoday First Nation) works with composer Mel Braun and sixteen Camerata Nova musicians who integrate samples from two repertoires: music from Eekwol’s hand drum group and Canadian pop songs that charted between 1970 and 2016. The show delivers messaging which both fits with and diverges from the larger arc of Eekwol’s hip hop career.  This presentation shares research grounded in participant observation with Camerata Nova through its rehearsal process and performances. Invoking Michelle Raheja’s analysis of Indigenous sovereignty that is not limited to a Euro-American legal concept of political sovereignty, I ask how musicians can build future public performances that carry the collaboration process towards more productive forms of unsettling.

Prof. Liz Przybylski is an interdisciplinary scholar of popular music. She specializes in Indigenous hip hop practices in Canada and the United States. A graduate of Bard College (BA) and Northwestern University (MA, PhD), Liz’s work bridges ethnomusicology, musicology, gender studies, and Indigenous Studies. She has presented her research nationally and internationally, including at the Society for Ethnomusicology, Feminist Theory and Music, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, and International Council for Traditional Music World Conferences. Recent and forthcoming publications analyze how the sampling of heritage music in Indigenous hip hop contributes to dialogues about cultural change in urban areas. Liz has also published on popular music pedagogy. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research with hip hop artists and music broadcasters in Winnipeg. Her ongoing work develops an innovative model of on- and off-line ethnography for the analysis of contemporary popular music. In addition to her university teaching, Liz has taught adult and pre-college learners at the American Indian Center in Chicago and the Concordia Language Villages program of Concordia College in Bemidji. A radio enthusiast, Liz hosted the world music show “Continental Drift” on WNUR in Chicago and has conducted interviews with musicians for programs including “At The Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research” on CJUM in Winnipeg. Liz currently serves as the Vice President of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Southern California and Hawaii Chapter and as the Media Reviews Editor for the journal American Music.

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