My latest book, “Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music,” uses country music to examine white in-group class conflict, showing how it helps maintain the invisibilized, dominant status of middle-class whiteness and hence status-quo white supremacy in the United States. Since 2009, I have taught this material in a U-M course of the same title. I also maintain the Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music page on Facebook, highlighting BIPOC artists and news in country, old-time, and Americana music.
I spearheaded a groundbreaking volume, “Uncharted Country: New Voices and Perspectives in Country Music Studies,” co-edited with Professor Francesca T. Royster (DePaul) and published as a special issue of Journal of Popular Music Studies (August 2020). The issue features 14 pieces on BIPOC and other topics and on Latingrass, Mexilachian, country-trap, and “Blackbrown” sounds in country music. It includes scholarly articles, music-themed memoirs, song lyrics, and an audio megamix demonstrating 120 years of shared musical dialogue across the R&B/country color line that was forged by the music industry under Jim Crow. Professor Royster and I committed to inclusion of graduate-student and junior scholars and presented here the most racially and ethnically diverse group of authors ever assembled in a country music volume.
My current book project, “Country Mexicans: Sounding Mexican American Life, Love, and Belonging in Country Music,” presents perspectives from Mexican American country fans across the United States along with archival research to argue that country, often termed “quintessentially American” music, is, in real and important ways, Mexican music. I consider the history of country music in connection with the history of U.S. seizure of Mexican territories (now known as the American Southwest), the Mexican sources of central features of country music, and audible musical evidence of Mexican influence to show how country music is even more quintessentially American than we have imagined.
I trained as a musician and continue to perform occasionally, most recently on Queer Country Quarterly (5/20). I also collaborate frequently with and appear in print, radio, and podcast media such as the “Jolene” episode of the “Dolly Parton’s America” podcast. I work as a critic, historian, and theorist of gender, sexuality, class, and race-ethnicity in popular and concert music of the Americas and Britain. At U-M I am a Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Music and Faculty Associate in American Culture, and Director of the Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative. I teach courses in LGBTQ+ and class and inequality studies.