Alex Blue, PhD in Ethnomusicology

Alex Blue, Thurgood Marshall Fellow, now Dr. of Ethnomusicology

On November 19, 2020, Alex Blue successfully defended his dissertation (virtually) at UC Santa Barbara and became a Doctor of Ethnomusicology. His dissertation, titled A Matter of Death and Life: Necrographies of Hip-Hop in Contemporary Detroit, engages with the lives and music of various actors in Detroit's hip-hop scene to understand how they respond to narratives of death and dying about/in Detroit, how they might use a supposedly dead city as inspiration, how they create from seemingly dead spaces, and how all of these things are colored by both race and place. His assertion is that studying Detroit hip-hop in this manner can help us gain a better, deeper understanding of the ways in which Black people navigate, respond to, and live with the various forms of death that are prematurely forced upon us in the United States and around the world. He is currently working on turning his dissertation into a book manuscript as he prepares to begin a position as Assistant Professor of Music at College of William and Mary, beginning in Fall '21.

Dr. Alex Blue will be teaching AAAS 39.05 The Utility of Death and Dying in African American Music here at Dartmouth, during spring term.  This course explores the topics of death and dying and their multiple uses across the span of African American music from the time of enslavement to the present day. Through an engagement with sound recordings, scholarly writings, journalism, lyrical analysis, film, and other sources, we will expand our understanding of how and why death is so frequently invoked in African American music. Although some reasons for these invocations - for instance, loss or mourning – may seem obvious, we will learn that death and dying can serve multiple purposes, from 'deadness' serving as a necessary aesthetic for creation, to death being an integral part of an artist's identity.

Congratulations to Dr. Blue!