“We Need You to Get this Right”: Musical Communities and the Responsibilities of the Scholar

This lecture explores the complex relationship between scholars and the communities they study, with a particular focus on communities of musicians. This relationship can be fraught with tension and misunderstanding, and can generate mistrust and suspicion towards scholars. This lecture chronicles and draws on more than 15 years of interactions with hip-hop artists, and, based on successes and stumbles alike offers practical recommendations to fellow scholars. 


Mark Katz is the Ruel W.Tyson Jr. Distinguished Professor of the Humanities and the Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music and Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ. He is co-editor of Music, Sound, and Technology in America: A Documentary History and former editor of the Journal of the Society for American Music. In 2013 he created, and continues to direct, the U.S. State Department–funded musical diplomacy program Next Level, which connects American hip-hop artists to underserved communities around the world to promote cultural exchange, conflict reduction, and entrepreneurship. In 2015 he was honored by New York University’s Hip-Hop Education Center in its inaugural awards ceremony.