Rivers of Rhythm

Presented by:

Belmont University

National Museum of African American Music

About Genre Content Contributers

Many of the genre descriptions included in this application are pulled in part from African American Music: An Introduction - Second Edition (Routledge Press, 2015) edited by Mellonee V. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsby.  Additional information was compiled by by Billy Altman.

Dr. Portia K Maultsby

Portia K. Maultsby is a former professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and Founding Director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University where she also was adjunct professor of African American and African Diaspora, American, and African Studies. She received a B.M. degree in music theory and composition from Mount St. Scholastica College (renamed Benedictine College) in Kansas, and both the M.M. degree in musicology and the Ph.D. degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Maultsby teaches historical and theoretical courses on African American music and ethnomusicology. Her research topics have centered on Black religious and popular music and she has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the United States, in England, the Netherlands, Russia, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. She is co-editor of African American Music: An Introduction Routledge Press (2006). Her other writings on African American popular and religious music appear in American and European journals and edited volumes, including Ethnomusicology, The Black Perspective in Music, Journal of Popular Culture, The Western Journal of Black Studies, Bulgarian Musicology, The Harvard Guide to African-American History, and Encyclopedia of World Music. Currently she is completing a book titled From the Margins to the Mainstream: Black Popular Music (1945-2000), and is conducting research on the globalization of African American music in the Netherlands. In addition to her scholarly work, Professor Maultsby is a keyboard player and the founding director of the IU Soul Revue, a touring ensemble specializing in the performance of African American popular music. She also has served as consulting scholar for PBS, BBC and NPR productions on African American music.


Dr. Mellonee V. Burnim

Mellonee Burnim is a professor and Director of the Ethnomusicology Institute in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and Director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University-Bloomington, where she is also adjunct professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies, American Studies, and African Studies.  Dr. Burnim’s research centers on African American religious music, the music of the African diaspora and African American music aesthetics.   As a performer-scholar, she has combined her expertise in choral music, piano, and ethnomusicology to establish an international forum for her work.  In 2004, she was named the first Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Ethnomusicology and Ritual Studies at the Institute for Sacred Music at Yale University.  She is also a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of North Texas.  She is co-editor of  African American Music:  An Introduction, (Routledge, 2006)  and co-editor of the Illinois Press Series, African American Music in Global Perspective.  She received her M.M. in ethnomusicology from the University of Wisconsin and Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Indiana University.


Billy Altman

Billy Altman is an award-winning journalist, critic, historian, author and educator.  A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he achieved a bachelor's degree in Contemporary American Ethnomusicology, his writing about music and popular culture have appeared over the years in such publications as the New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Esquire.

The founding historian for the new National Blues Museum in St. Louis, he has served as a consultant to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, and as a Curator for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  A Grammy nominated music producer, he has been honored for his work as an Archivist by the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center, and is a reciepient of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music criticism.  He is a longstanding member in the Humanities Department at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he teaches courses in Pop, Jazz, Folk and Blues music.

National Museum of African American Music

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