The 2021 Pop Convergence: A Virtual Pop Conference, April 22-25th
Artwork by Alex Nero; Design by The Art Dictator
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Friday, April 23 • 4:00pm - 5:15pm
“South Gotta Change”: Southern Music in a Moment of Transformation (Room A: Sky Church)

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“South Gotta Change”: Southern Music in a Moment of Transformation (Room A: Sky Church)

The music of the South has long been a potent and contested symbol within popular music. Genres associated with the region – country, blues, “Americana,” bluegrass, Latinx music, Indigenous traditions, et cetera – have formed a sonic bedrock of U.S. pop styles while also standing in for larger conversations about race, region, history and “tradition” on a changing cultural and political landscape. In recent years, as the era of #BlackLivesMatter and “Make America Great Again” has reinvigorated conversations about the music and its meanings, the South’s artists and audiences have leapt into the center of these complex conversations. Artists from Rhiannon Giddens to Sa-Roc to Che Apalache to Adia Victoria and beyond have challenged genre boundaries, canonical narratives and contemporary representations in powerful interventions. Audiences have responded to these calls by reclaiming lost histories and proclaiming the music’s renewed relevance in contemporary conversations. And all have continued to push against the commercial exclusions, narrative distortions and socio-political backlashes that accompany their work.

This roundtable considers Southern music in this moment of disruption. The participants – a diverse group of scholars, writers and artists – will consider how artists, audience members and the recording industry have reacted to this moment, as well as challenges and opportunities characterize the future. They will also contend with the very notion of “Southern music” as a category, exploring both its potential and ambivalence in regards to race, gender, genre and other key issues. And they will discuss the music’s roles in assuring that, as Victoria suggests in her powerful 2020 release, “the South gotta change.”

avatar for Charles L. Hughes

Charles L. Hughes

Rhodes College
Charles L. Hughes is a historian based in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of two books, Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South and Why Bushwick Bill Matters, as well as numerous articles. He co-edits (with Jessica Hopper) the American Music Series at... Read More →

avatar for David Cantwell

David Cantwell

Critic David Cantwell lives in Kansas City, MO. He sometimes writes about popular culture for The New Yorkerand Rolling Stone Countryand was the 2017 winner of the Chet Flippo Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism. His revised and expanded The Running Kind: Listening to... Read More →

Amanda Martinez

Amanda Marie Martinez is a Doris G. Quinn fellow and a PhD candidate in the history department at UCLA, where she is completing a dissertation on race and the country music industry from the 1970s-1990s. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Popular Music Studies and California... Read More →

Andrea Williams

Andrea Williams is a Nashville-based journalist writing about culture, music, and sports for a number of top publications, including Vulture/New York Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Times, and many others. Her writing has established her as a leading voice about race and country... Read More →

Friday April 23, 2021 4:00pm - 5:15pm PDT
Room B: Oscillator