Concord, CA (BlackNews.com) — The esteemed African-American musicologist, David M. Powers, will soon launch her unique book, From Plantation to Paradise? Cultural Politics and Musical Theatre in French Slave Colonies, 1764-1789 (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, May, 2014). This distinctive accomplishment will be the focus of a special public event to be held on June 7, 2014, 1:00-4:00 p.m., at the Embassy Suites Hotel, l345 Treat Boulevard, Walnut Creek, CA. The author will discuss certain aspects of the study and read selections from the book.
Dr. Powers’ book is a ground-breaking study of the impact of French operatic culture on the lives of all people in a colonial plantation
system (blacks, whites, the enslaved, the freed), presented in a compelling manner in which the author bridges that culture for
non-specialists by outlining relevant issues concerning slavery and the Enlightenment. Thus, the study is intended not only for music educators and the furtherance of intellectual and social development of music students; it is also written for non-musical persons interested in black history, French Caribbean studies, musical theatre, and status of women in colonial society.
The study explores the strong bonds between music, society, and the French concept of the Sub-Saharan African Other—bonds that also provided a venue in which nonwhites (enslaved and freed) were able to excel in the performance of classical genres produced in the colonies. Thus, Powers approaches the subject from a very unique position, one that focuses on a classical art form–opera–in an attempt to determine the relationship between the ruling class, those being ruled, and theatre production. To achieve these goals, Powers spent several years in France (Aix-en-Provence, Bordeaux, Cassis, Marseilles, Paris, and Versailles) and in the French Antilles (Martinique and Guadeloupe) conducting research at various archives and libraries, as well as using several archival sources in the United States.
Powers has published several articles on seventeenth-and eighteenth-century French opera and presented papers, nationally and
internationally, at many prestigious conferences. These include the Scholarly Papers Competition of the National Opera Association; African
American Music and Europe International Conference at Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris, France); Second Conference of International Centre of African Music and Dance, University of Ghana-Accra (West Africa); Twenty-First Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean Studies (Johannesburg, South Africa); and Ethnomusicology Symposium: Orientalism, Representation, and the Arts, University of California-Los Angeles.
Powers has received several prestigious awards including Honorable Mention, NWA Nonfiction Contest, National Writers Association; Camargo Foundation Resident Fellowship (Cassis, France); First Place, Scholarly Papers Competition, National Opera Association; Faculty fellowship, Institute for the Humanities, University of Illinois at Chicago; and travel awards to present papers in Ghana, West Africa, and Paris, France. She taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For more information on the study, the author, and the June 7 event, go to www.davidmspowers.com
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