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TN Writers | TN Stories: Michael T. Bertrand in conversation with Sheri Bartlett Browne, Ph.D.

June 8 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm CDT

Southern History Remixed: On Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Dilemma of Race is a book about popular music. But it also is a book about southern history. The two are not mutually exclusive. Ultimately, it is an exploration which demonstrates that what occurs in the musical realm does affect and reflect what happens in the historical one, and that analyzing a society’s past musical activities helps to understand that society’s past. Overall, the book argues that popular music played a key role in the shaping of the U.S. South from the late 19th century to the era of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Specifically, it focuses on a post-World War II generation bound by a segregationist past drawn into a racially-inclusive world of Black radio programming, rhythm and blues, and youth culture. The results of this collision often led to confusion and ambivalence among many of the South’s adolescents, tendencies that undermined the region’s racial status quo.

Relying on a wide array of first-hand sources, the book challenges the conventional wisdom that paints all white southerners of the period as of one mind in reference to race. Taking popular music seriously allows us to view the cracks in the monolithic model and comprehend a changing South encountering the modern civil rights movement as a complex and nuanced process. Indeed, Southern History Remixed concludes with the phrase, “It’s complicated.”


June 8
10:30 am - 12:00 pm CDT
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