Nobody or a Nation: Black Women Musicians and the Midcentury Making of Sonic Citizenship


ACLS Fellowship Program


African American Studies, American Studies, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Theater Studies


“Nobody or a Nation” explores the work of mid- to late-twentieth-century African American women musicians and sonic entertainers and the significant role that each of these artists play in the making of modern social and cultural imaginaries by way of sound. This book aims to think through the centrality of black women’s popular music culture as it dialectically engages with questions of democracy, privacy, and blackness in the public sphere. In tracing the work of a diverse range of black women artists, it also charts the geopolitical navigations of black women musicians who improvised complex racial, gender, class, and national formations in a period that spans from the wake of World War II to the early 1970s.