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'Drag 'Em': How Movement Shaped The Music Of Mary Lou Williams

What did it mean for Williams to "roll" from one blood red state to the next at one of the crucial, early moments in her career as an avant-garde jazz pianist who moved from innovating swing to bebop to orchestral experimentalism? More to the point, how did that movement perhaps inform and shape her experimental philosophies about music making, a subject she would explore in her written work and interviews at various points in her career?

An essay excerpted from the forthcoming book Liner Notes For The Revolution: Black Feminist Sound Cultures by Daphne A. Brooks, to be published by Harvard University Press in 2020.

About the Author

Daphne A. Brooks is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She is currently working on a three-volume study of black women and popular music culture entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound Modernity. The first volume in the trilogy, Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Archive, the Critic, and Black Women’s Sound Cultures, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.

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