Georgetown University Music Program Professor Ben Harbert wears a black suit and blue shirt, posing against a gray background.
Music News

GU Music Program Prof. Benjamin J. Harbert Receives American Musicological Society’s 2020 Best Essay Prize in Popular Music

Congratulations to Georgetown University Music Program Professor Benjamin J. Harbert, who just received the American Musicological Society’s 2020 Best Essay Prize in Popular Music, for an essay for an essay co-authored with returned citizen, voting rights activist, and singer Consuela Gaines, who spent 22 years incarcerated at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women. “Sounding Lockdown: Singing in Administrative Segregation at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women” examines the critical role of music and sound in lockdown, the prison within the prison. The essay is published in the edited volume Popular Music and the Politics of Hope: Queer and Feminist Interventions (Routledge 2019), edited by Susan Fast and Craig Jennex.

The award was announced on Nov. 14 as part of the American Musicological Society’s (AMS) 86th Annual Meeting, held virtually virtually for the first time ever. The event is a forum for the exploration of music, scholarship, community, and learning, and was held jointly with the Society for Music Theory (SMT). Founded in 1934, AMS is a non-profit organization committed to advancing “research in the various fields of music as a branch of learning and scholarship.”

Ben Harbert joined the music faculty at Georgetown University after receiving his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. His Ph.D. research was on music in three Louisiana prisons. His current research interests also include documentary film and posthumanism. Harbert has been a teaching fellow at University of California, Los Angeles and a lecturer at Pomona College as well as a resident artist at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Before returning to academia, he directed the guitar, percussion and music theory programs at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music.

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