The Executive Director’s Column
Dear CBMR supporters, friends, and colleagues:
Spring certainly does feel like “the time of plans and projects” as Tolstoy wrote—at least here at the CBMR. I am glad to report that the CBMR continues to successfully navigate a period of college-wide transition and, as you will see from this issue of CBMR Digest, it also continues to produce and support a diverse range of work on black music. With regards to the transition, Columbia College Chicago has announced that Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim will serve as Columbia’s tenth president and CEO. The CBMR joins the college community in congratulating Dr. Kim on his appointment, and we look forward to a productive partnership and to deepening our work on behalf of the college’s mission under his leadership.
Additionally, the CBMR now falls squarely under the administrative umbrella of Academic Affairs, reporting to that department’s associate vice president, Susan Marcus. This shift has allowed for new organizational perspectives and access to cross-college networks that will help support the CBMR’s efforts to build curricular integration, create meaningful collaborative opportunities with other entities on campus, and enhance its value as a resource and hub for students, faculty, and staff across the college’s departments and programs. One of these efforts is the creation of a CBMR Columbia College Faculty Fellowship. Robust interdisciplinarism has been a hallmark of the CBMR’s work at least since Samuel Floyd’s Integrative Arts Initiative. The new fellowship program, developed in partnership with the Office of the Provost, will leverage the strengths embodied by Columbia’s artist-faculty in support of projects and research that continue this tradition.
In addition to working with new leadership and new colleagues, CBMR staff has been engaged in a full range of activities and initiatives. While performance programming is one area that has downshifted in line with current budgetary realities, other core program streams such as publications, outreach and education programming, and fellows’ activity are forging ahead. Editor Horace Maxile and Associate Editor Gayle Murchison continue to lead a team of committed consulting editors in producing exciting issues of Black Music Research Journal, now in its thirty-third volume. Melanie Zeck, long-time intrepid research assistant at the CBMR, has taken on the essential role of Managing Editor and I am happy to welcome Kathlene Boone, a Columbia College master’s student in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management, as a special projects intern. She is helping build and implement a system that will streamline the work of the BMRJ editorial team. Guthrie Ramsey’s strong editorial eye still ensures the quality and influence of the Music of the African Diaspora book series co-published by the CBMR and the University of California Press. Working with such a talented roster of colleagues continues to be both blessing and boon.
Programming highlights and fellows activity are detailed across the issue (including resident fellow—and CBMR Europe’s Research Coordinator—Gianpaolo Chiriacò’s deepening project on Black Vocality) so I won’t detail them here, but will close with a quick heads up. The quality and diversity of the Travel-to-the-Collections grant applications pool continues to impress us. I am delighted with how competitive and fruitful the program is and want to find ways to increase its reach. To that end, we are developing a campaign in honor of its namesakes Samuel A. Floyd Jr. and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. Please look for more information about this soon and consider making a gift that will support the hands-on research at the CBMR that the program makes accessible for scholars and practitioners. In the meantime, enjoy the issue and stay in touch.
Monica Hairston O’Connell