Samuel Boateng

  • Graduate Student, Jazz Studies

Samuel Boateng is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, visual artist, filmmaker and researcher from Ghana. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in Music (Jazz Studies program) at University of Pittsburgh where he also serves as a Teaching Fellow for various classes including History of Jazz, Piano/Musicianship, Introduction to Western Music, Afropop Ensemble. He holds an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from Kent State University with a research focus on the changing representations of women in Ghanaian popular music and the role of visual culture in shaping contemporary narratives about gender and sexuality in popular performance. While at Kent State he was the instructor of record for various Music as a world Phenomenon classes and he also served as a Teaching Assistant for the African music and dance ensemble.


Samuel’s research is located at the intersections of jazz transnationalism, decolonization, critical cosmopolitanism, music communities, intellectual property and piracy, as well as the implications of spirituality and affective labor on contemporary African diasporic music scenes. His dissertation, Ghana in Transnational Jazz Perspective: Music, Diaspora, Identities, Scene focuses on the intercultural collaborations of Ghanaian musicians in Britain, United States and Ghana to unsettle traditional histories of jazz that place Africa only in the past of the music’s development, while examining the continuous and mutual influences between Africa and the Black Diaspora. In 2019, his paper “Jazz and Contemporary Music Making in Ghana: Making a Case for Decolonizing African Music Research” was awarded the African Libraries Student Paper Prize through the African and African Diasporic Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology. He is one of two recipients of the inaugural Immersive Dissertation Research Fellowship through the Andrew Mellon Humanities Engage Program at University of Pittsburgh, and he was also awarded an Andrew Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in 2020. In 2021 he was awarded the ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.


As an artist, Samuel has collaborated with various bands and collectives across diverse genres including jazz, funk, reggae, hip hop, highlife, Afrobeat, dangdut, traditional African music and dance. He has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center, Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, National Theater (Ghana), Lincoln Center, and Indosiar TV (Indonesia). In 2019 he collaborated as a pianist with funk and rock legend Betty Davis on her new song “A Little Bit Hot Tonight.” As a composer and ASCAP award winner, his works have been performed by the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Kent State Orchestra, Ion Sound, Adepa Ensemble, Quartetto di Venezia and Afro Yaqui Music Collective.


Samuel’s new film, Accra Jazz Dialogues—which explores the implications of jazz beyond the borders of the United States through conversations and performances with artists in the Accra jazz scene—was premiered at the 2022 University of Pittsburgh Humanities Engage Symposium.