“The Product of Our Souls” with Author David Gilbert
Part book-reading, part open discussion, author David Gilbert interrogates the (sometimes hidden, sometimes plain-as-day) racial assumptions that inform modern U.S. popular culture. Framed as a discussion about the rise of early-twentieth century American culture industries such as Broadway Theater, Tin Pan Alley song publishing, the recording industry, and “social dance,” Gilbert hopes to center African Americans’ artistic innovations during a virulently racist era of American history.
Working in New York City between 1896 and 1919, black performers intervened in New York music and culture markets, often reshaping them in their image. Yet working within the contours of a racist American society just as “Jim Crow” laws became the law of the land, black culture workers also came to mark racial difference as much as it symbolized the arrival of the politically-powerful New Negro. The ramifications of this history are immense, and this event will generate a conversation about ragtime, jazz, rock, soul, and hip hop music that explores both the opportunities and limitations that African Americans have negotiated ever since as they’ve created and re-created the sounds and meaning of pop culture in the U.S. and the world.
610 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806