Blacksound: Making Race & Popular Music in the United States


ACLS Fellowship Program


Recorded Music

Named Award

ACLS Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellow named award


This book explores the sonic and aesthetic legacy of blackface minstrelsy, the firt original form of popular muisc in the U.S., in an effort to uncover the relationship between performance, (racial) identity, and (intellectual) property in the making of popular music from the early nineteenth century into the present. Blacksound is defined as the sonic and embodied legacy of blackface minstrelsy, and this concept is employed to demonstrate how blackface (sonically and structurally) shapes the origin of popular music and copyright laws in the United States. This work considers how commercial entertainment in the nineteenth century developed out of blackface rituals of possession and consumption, while also centering the structural conditions of slavery that enabled for the embodiment and cooption black performance practices in the development of popular music and its industry.