From Slave Spirituals to Hip Hop: The Social and Political History of American Music

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Thursday, Jun 30, 2016, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Edgewood Auditorium
575 Osgood Street
North Andover, MA

This presentation will review the rich and complex development of music over the four centuries of post-Columbus American history and connect these strains of music through examining their social and political context. Using recorded music, film clips and still images, the presentation will trace the evolution of American music from the early slave spirituals through the hugely popular minstrels in the late 19th century, to the blues and jazz that developed at the opening of the 20th century, to the Rock ‘n’ Roll that was created in the late 40s and early 50s, and ending with the various strains of American popular and topical music of the last 30 years that resulted from the evolution of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Throughout the presentation an emphasis will be placed on the social and political context of the music and the messages the songs were attempting to convey.

Kevin Comtois currently teaches Advanced Placement United States History, American Government, and American Civics at the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. Comtois taught at Northern Essex Community College (NECC), Merrimack College, Quincy College, the Tsongas Industrial History Center, as well as many high schools in the Merrimack Valley.

Comtois created a course on the history of American music and served as Social Studies Department Chair. At NECC he developed and taught an Honors Colloquium titled: “The Social and Political History of American Music.”

He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Westfield State College and his M.A in American Civilization from the University of Massachusetts Boston. In 2015 Comtois published his first book titled: “Troubadours and Troublemakers: The Evolution of American Protest Music.”

He currently lives with his wife Maxine in Methuen, Massachusetts.


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