My primary area of research is vocal duos in American (popular) music. In my dissertation (Boston University, 2010), I used the Everly Brothers as a framework for my research, exploring the roots of their style, their influence on the following generations of duos and vocal harmony in rock, and the general history of vocal duos in American popular music. That took me into areas such as American musical theater from minstrelsy to vaudeville to Broadway, American vernacular music (especially Appalachian and other Southern varieties), and country music. I am also interested in how the music for duets is constructed and interpreted and the performative aspects of duos.
I am currently working on a book on the Everly Brothers that explores their early career and their role in the birth of rock and roll.
My research on the Everly Brothers naturally led me to study other duos throughout the history of American music.
I have studied contemporary music of Hawai’i for several years now. I presented a paper on it at the 2006 meeting of the Society of Ethnomusicology and another one at the 2008 meeting of SEM. This recent paper focuses on the intersection of Hawaiian music (particularly slack key guitar) and online communities. I have written articles for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music.
Regional, Ethnic, and Vernacular Musics of the United States
That’s a pretty broad topic, I know, but it fits together in my mind. My interest started with the shape-note singing and publishing practices of the South in the late nineteenth century. I have written one essay (“Mama Sings Tenor: The Evolution of Voice Placement in Nineteenth-Century Shape-Note Books”) for a forthcoming book on Southern gospel and presented a summary of that research at the 2013 annual meeting of the Society for American Music.
Based on my background with Hawaiian music, I was tapped to teach a first year seminar on folk musics of the US. I have structured the course as an exploration of the immigrant experience in America and the role of musical tradition in shaping community identity. I also teach a second year seminar on Native American music. Together, these two courses have expanded my passion for American music outside of the formal concert halls. I have brushed up my ukulele and guitar skills, bought an accordion (though I have in no way mastered it), re-discovered my passion for bluegrass, attended numerous pow wows and folk festivals. I also co-founded a community band and actively music direct for a youth theater company. For the moment, I am absorbing it all, but a book idea is percolating. Stay tuned.
Patronage of Composers in the United States
My masters thesis (Boston University, 2005) was on the patronage of composers in the United States. I have since written an article for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music on this topic.
Keyboard music of American composers
I am particularly interested in the solo piano music composed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This sadly remains a back burner project for me, but one day I hope to return to it.