Hitting all the right notes

Honors College course celebrates Black women in music throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Maya Gibson headshot

Maya Gibson

March 19, 2021

Maya Gibson, humanities and music professor in the Black Studies Department, teaches “Black Women in Music — From Billie Holiday to Beyoncé.” The Honors College course offers more than a history lesson — it provides a forum for students to have in-depth discussions about topics addressed in class.

“The course highlights the role of Black women as producers and consumers of classical, jazz and popular music during the 20th and 21st centuries,” Gibson said.

Sophomore film studies major Bailey Sims said she loves being able to “hear history” and connect things from the music to the articles and discussions covered in class. “Being a Black woman, Black history is a part of my everyday life,” Sims said. “With this course, I learn about the powerful Black women that have led the way and have shaped music into what it is today — every single genre.”

Gibson began teaching the course out of a desire to teach the type of class she wanted to take as an undergraduate.

“It challenges assumptions we might carry about Black women in music,” Gibson said. “It deepens a knowledge base about music that is often familiar (and some that is less familiar) but goes uncontextualized, and it does so in a fun and compelling way.”

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