Call for Submissions: Black Women and Jazz

Ella Fitzgerald in the 1962 stage event Salute to the President (Billy Rose Theatre Division/ NYPL)

Black Perspectives, the award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), invites blog posts for an online forum on the topic of Black Women and Jazz. Black women have been prolific contributors to the art from of jazz since the music emerged as a cultural phenomenon in the early twentieth century. Their ideas about democracy, equality, and spirituality deeply informed their music and their activism. The scholarship of Angela Davis, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Randal Maurice Jelks, Vaughn Booker, Daphne Brooks, Jayna Brown, and others demonstrate how Black women in jazz used their statements on racism, sexism, and religion. These works reveal that Black women jazz artists, though not always recognized for their contributions, provided intellectual soundtracks for social change and political progress. They continue to shape the genre—especially in the advent of the Black Lives Matter movement. More recently, Black jazz artists, such as LaKecia Benjamin, Nubya Grace, Tia Fuller, and Camille Thurman, have been shaping the musical landscape through an uptick in jazz recordings. These are just some of the myriad ways Black women are continuing to leave their mark on the genre—and on American music in general.

Black Perspectives invites writers to contribute short essays that provide historical context for this rise in political art. The forum seeks to explore Black women’s unique contributions to jazz and to United States history. We encourage potential contributors to submit guest blog posts that explore topics that include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Pioneering Black women in Jazz (including Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, and Bessie Smith)
  • Billie Holiday and the recording of Strange Fruit
  • Mary Lou Williams as a social change agent
  • Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddam
  • The blacklisting of Hazel Scott
  • The life and legacy of Abbey Lincoln
  • Alice Coltrane’s spiritual jazz movement
  • Lena Horne’s impact on the entertainment industry

The submissions should be between 1,000 to 1,500 words. They must be submitted to no later than Saturday, October 15, by 11:59 p.m Eastern. With your submission, please include your bio (250-300 words) and headshot (for use in promotion if your essay is accepted).

*All submissions will undergo a peer review process before they are accepted. Please click here for more details on the blog’s submission guidelines as well as information regarding format and citations.

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