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Columbia College Chicago
Stephanie Shonekan
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Stephanie Shonekan

Winter Fellow
Chicago, IL

Stephanie Shonekan

Stephanie Shonekan Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and Black Studies at the University of Missouri.  She earned her BA and MA degrees Nigeria from the University of Jos and the University of Ibadan, respectively.  In 2003 she earned a PhD in Ethnomusicology with a minor in African American Studies from Indiana University Bloomington.  In her dissertation, One Life Two Voices: The Examination, Exploration, and Exposition of the Life of Camilla Williams, Soprano, Dr. Shonekan studied issues of voice and identity that emerge when the personalities of two black women from opposite sides of the Atlantic unite in the presentation of a collaborative autobiography.

From 2003 to 2011, Shonekan taught at Columbia College Chicago where she developed and taught courses that focused on the music and literature that is created by people of African descent, including “Black Arts Movement,” “Harlem Renaissance: 1920s Art and Literature,” “Contemporary African Literature and Music,” “Hip Hop: Global Music and Culture,” and “Soul, Country and the USA.”  Dr. Shonekan has also presented several papers at international conferences, including the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the Conference on the Study of Slave Life and Culture in the African Diaspora at Indiana University’s History Department.

Dr. Shonekan’s own intertwined Nigerian and Trinidadian heritage inspires continued study of music and culture across the African Diaspora. Her research interests include black women and life writing, as well as investigating the evolving parallels that exist in the literature and music of Africa and the African Diaspora. Her book The Life of Camilla Williams, African American Classical Singer and Opera Diva was published in 2011 by Edwin Mellen Press.  Her article on the influences of afrobeat maestro Fela Kuti, “Fela’s Foundation,” is published in the Black Music Research Journal (Spring 2009), her article on Nigerian hip hop, “Sharing Hip Hop Cultures: The Case of Nigerians and African Americans,” is published in American Behavioral Scientist (January 2011), and her chapter on Nigerian hip hop is also published in the book Hip Hop Africa (Indiana University Press 2012).  She is currently working on a book project: The Souls of American Folk: Race and Identity in Soul and Country Music and a documentary project titled Sounds of Blackness: The Globalization of African American Music and Culture.

Dr. Shonekan also wrote and produced the award-winning short film Lioness of Lisabi (2008), which was inspired by the life of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Nigerian women's activist and mother of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

The Institute fellowship supported the development of Dr. Shonekan’s documentary film, Lioness of Lisabi about the life of women’s rights activist Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, the mother of Nigerian afrobeat creator and artist, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Dr. Shonekan and the Lioness of Lisabi crew and cast shot the film in Trinidad, West Indies in March 2008.  Trinidad was chosen as the ideal location because of the ease with which the team was able to recreate a West African marketplace there. The climate, terrain and the people comprise a setting that is strikingly similar to Western Nigeria. Lioness of Lisabi has received awards from the Chicago International Children's Film Festival, First Prize (2009); a Jury Award from Women of African Descent Film Festival in New York (2009) and was nominated for Best Short Film and Best Director at the Naperville International Film Festival (2009).

For more information visit: www.stephanieshonekan.com