Monica Ambalal Lands Tenure-Track Job

Alumnus Monica Ambalal accepted a full-time tenure-track position as at Merritt College in Oakland, CA, where she teaches a variety of courses including music appreciation, American popular music, jazz/blues, and African-American Music, and is currently developing a Latin-American music course.

Ray Briggs Interviewed for Black History Month

The CSULB Office of Media and Government relations featured an interview with Dr. Ray Briggs for Black History Month. Dr. Briggs spoke about the inextricable link between African-American history and African-American music. He is quoted as noting, “‘Spiritual song lyrics such as ‘Go Down Moses, tell old Pharaoh to let my people go’ reflected the crux of slave theology. They were saying, ‘We are like those Hebrews. We are like those people who were enslaved in a foreign land and just like God worked on their behalf he will work on ours.’ If they had said that directly to the slave owners there would have been serious consequences. So, they had to sing it and code it in a way that could not easily be detected, but still allowed for them to express themselves. For one’s psychological well-being we know that expression is important. It’s a human desire, a human need. For them, in a sense, it was a means of survival’.”



Mandy Smith Lands Job at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Alumna Mandy Smith (MA Musicology, ABD Case Western Reserve) has landed what she describes as her dream job. She wrote: “I’m the new Education Instructor at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. My main duties include booking and teaching in their K-12 Rockin’ the Schools program, which offers free, onsite, interdisciplinary classes that exceed Ohio educational standards. I also get to make class content, create online videos and lesson plans for our Digital Classroom, and do lots of other exciting rock education activities. The department is very vibrant–six out of eight of us are musicologists, so I’m in good company.”

Mandy Jo Smith Wins Graduate Student Paper Award

Mandy Jo Smith, musicology alumna now working towards her PhD at Case Western University, organized a session on rock drumming for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. The session was standing room only, attended by major scholars of popular music as well as graduate researchers. Mandy Jo won the Graduate Student Paper Award at this conference for her presentation.

Erin Miller’s Research Featured in Research at the Beach

MM candidate Erin Miller’s research is in the spotlight in this month’s “Research at the Beach” Newsletter.  The article explores Erin’s work on how artists have used their voices to represent the marginalized groups in their respective experiences, taking into consideration gender and feminist readings of meaning and identity, and hermeneutic meanings in texts and poetry.

Sarah Gerk in Yearlong Residency

Alumna Sarah Gerk completed her Ph.D. in historical musicology at the University of Michigan. She is currently supported by a yearlong residency at the River Wind House, a writer’s residence in South Haven, Michigan, where she is writing a book on Irish influences on nineteenth-century American popular music.

Her article on Amy Beach’s “Gaelic” Symphony is forthcoming with the Journal of the Society for American Music, and her essay on Alice Cooper’s relationship with Detroit has recently been published in the book Heavy Metal, Gender, and Sexuality: Interdiscipinary Approaches. She has also written several entries for the new edition of the New Grove Dictionary of American Music and she is the author of the practice quizzes for the latest edition of Peter Burkholder’s A History of Western Music. 

She has presented research at national meetings of the American Musicological Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the Society for American Music, as well as internationally at conferences on Irish music, nineteenth-century music, and heavy metal.