Maya Brown-Boateng

  • Graduate Student, Ethnomusicology

I am a PhD student in Ethnomusicology and a Teaching Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. My research interests include the contemporary manifestations of blackface minstrelsy, nineteenth-century African American music, women in music history, banjo performance, and the perpetuation of Blackness through banjo histories and sounds. My article, “Jim Along Josey’: Play-Parties and the Survival of a Blackface Minstrel Song,” investigates the ways that blackface minstrel tunes continue to pervade children’s music repertoire. Prior to Pitt, I received my BA in music from the University of Mount Union. I obtained my MA in Ethnomusicology from Kent State University where I developed an interest in the racialization of music in the United States. My Master’s thesis examined the historical erasure of Black banjo performance, and the efforts of Black banjoists today who are reclaiming an instrument, a music, and a history largely exploited in American popular culture. My dissertation builds upon my thesis by focusing on the practices of coalition building among Black banjoists and the changing meanings of Blackness and banjo performance in the United States, Jamaica, and Senegambia. As a classic banjoists myself, I received the All Frets Foundation Grant in 2019 from the All Frets Foundation. Also in 2019, I received the Historical Ethnomusicology Section Student Paper Prize for my paper presented at the annual Society for Ethnomusicology conference. Between the years 2018 and 2020 I served as co-chair to the Gertrude Robinson Black Ethnomusicology Network, a group dedicated to professionally, academically, and socially supporting Black ethnomusicologists in the Society for Ethnomusicology.