Please join us for a colloquium by Prof. Braxton Shelley (Harvard University), on Friday, Dec. 11, at 3pm. This event, titled “An Eternal Flame: Bishop G. E. Patterson and the Afterlives of Ecstasy," is jointly hosted by the Department of Music, the Department of Religion, and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. A Zoom link will be circulated closer to the date.
Braxton D. Shelley, a music scholar specializing in African American popular music, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and the Stanley A. Marks and William H. Marks Assistant Professor in the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. His research and critical interests, while currently focused on African American gospel performance, extend into media studies, sound studies, phenomenology, homiletics, and theology.
After earning a BA in Music and History from Duke University, Shelley received his PhD in the History and Theory of Music at the University of Chicago. While at the University of Chicago, he also earned a Master of Divinity from the university’s Divinity School. His 2017 dissertation, “Sermons in Song: Richard Smallwood, the Vamp, and the Gospel Imagination,” developed an analytical paradigm for gospel music that braids together resources from cognitive theory, ritual theory, and homiletics with studies of repetition, form, rhythm and meter.
Shelley is recipient of the 2016 Paul A. Pisk Prize from the American Musicological Society, the 2016 Graduate Student Prize from the Society for Christian Scholarship in Music, and 2018 Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation Award from the University of Chicago Division of the Humanities, and the 2019 Adam Krims award for the Popular Music Interest Group of the Society for Music Theory. His publications include the following essays: “Sounding Belief: ‘Tuning Up’ and The Gospel Imagination,” in Exploring Christian Song, “‘This Must Be The Single’: Valuing The Live Recording in Contemporary Gospel Performance,” in Living the Life I Sing, “Gospel Goes To Church (Again): Richard Smallwood’s Hybridity as Liturgical Compromise,” in Readings in African American Church Music and Worship, vol 2, and “Analyzing Gospel,” in the Journal of the American Musicological Society. His book-length study of African American gospel music, Healing for the Soul: Richard Smallwood, the Vamp, and the Gospel Imagination, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.