I am a historian interested in the intersection of race, capitalism, and popular culture. I grew up in Santa Cruz, California, received my BA in History from the University of California, Berkeley, and my PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a recipient of the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity.
My book project, Gone Country: How Nashville Transformed a Music Genre into a Lifestyle Brand (under review with UNC Press), is a history of the country music business in the post-Civil Rights era. I argue country music’s commercial triumphs during this period were built on anti-Blackness, and its positioning as antithetical to youth culture—which often functions as a synonym for subversive politics and/or Black culture, especially in reference to popular music. I consult music industry archives and artist and fan testimonials to show how major figures in the Nashville-based country music business crafted the myth of a purely white subculture while being aware of and ignoring Black and Latino country artists and fans. Focusing on the period between the late 1960s and 9/11, this book shows how country music operated not as a type of music, but as a tool of white grievance alongside the early rise of country’s first Black star, Charley Pride, during the Reagan years, and in a post-Rodney King America.
My writing has appeared in California History, the Journal of Popular Music Studies, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. I am a former postdoctoral fellow at the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race & Difference at Emory University, Diversity Dissertation Fellow at Middle Tennessee State University, and Doris G. Quinn Foundation Fellow.