Marti (Martha) K. Newland

Marti Newland is a 2014 Ph.D. alumna of the Columbia Ethnomusicology program. She was Core Lecturer in Music Humanities in 2014-16 and Lecturer in Music in 2016-17. She specializes in voice studies and African American music.  Her dissertation, "Sounding 'Black': An Ethnography of Racialized Vocal Practices at Fisk University,"  is a phenomenological study of radicalized vocality in the United States, with a focus on blackness. Through ethnographic research about radicalized vocal practices among Fisk students, a historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee, Marti examines the procedures at play in sounding “black”—the performance of race ideologies through vocal acts, as well as the ethics of listening for race in voices. A 2011 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship supports her research. She previously explored the role of vocality in the naturalization and denaturalization of race in two Master’s theses, one in African American Studies and the other in Ethnomusicology.  In the first, she examined blackface minstrelsy’s influence on the performance practices of concert spirituals by analyzing the politics of diction and orthography in constructing the dynamics between race and repertoire among American opera singers.  This research was awarded the 2007 Langston Hughes Thesis Award for the Humanities from Columbia’s Institute for Research in African American Studies. Most recently, she conducted an ethnographic study of a Japanese gospel choir in residence at a Baptist church in Harlem investigating how these Japanese singers, many of whom are atheist, and their Christian African American hosts negotiated racial and spiritual difference through gospel music making.

At Columbia, Marti has taught Field Methods and Techniques in Ethnomusicology and Topics in Music and Society. As a graduate student, she was awarded the 2011 Meyerson Award for excellence in teaching Music Humanities in the Columbia University Core Curriculum.  She has also been the instructor for Introductory Ear Training. She serves as a choral adjudicator for Worldstrides Heritage Festivals choral competitions and has taught private voice lessons at Seton Hall University.  She has sung in music festivals including three seasons with the Aspen Music Festival Opera Theater Center and Centro Studi Italiani in Urbania, Italy.  Her music theater roles include Glenda (The Wiz) and Mama Euralie (Once on This Island) and she has been a guest soloist with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Opera Noire of New York, and Harlem Opera Theater.  Marti has worked with teachers and directors including W. Steven Smith, Lorraine Manz, Caroline Jackson Smith and Edward Berkeley.  While she has performed roles in opera scenes including Antonia (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Governess (Turn of the Screw), Contessa (Le Nozze di Figaro), Musetta and Mimi (La Boheme), and Cio Cio San (Madame Butterfly), Marti is especially committed to performing African American art music.

Sounding "Black": An Ethnography of Racialized Vocality at Fisk University
Columbia Degrees: 
MA, Music
MPhil, Ethnomusicology
PhD, Ethnomusicology
Degrees from Other Institutions: 
with high honors
African American Studies
Oberlin College
Voice Performance
Oberlin Conservatory of Music