The Joys of Black Expressive Culture

I wanted to do a quick post about my absolute favorite class this semester– a music course entitled Black Expressive Culture, taught by Gayle Murchison (nicknamed Murki Waters… get it?)

This four credit music workshop class meets twice a week- on Tuesday we discuss significant black music from blues to funk, delving into its origins, its inspirations, its direction, and its major contributors. We look at the forms of the music, the power behind the lyrics, the reflection of the people who made it. We’ve watched Aretha Franklin performances, looked at Ray Charles’ controversial career, and picked apart Grover Washington Jr’s “Mister Magic” for an entire class period. Professor Murchison is as knowledgeable and passionate as she is lively and eccentric, and she makes the class.

The Wednesday section is where people tend to get really envious of me. It’s a jam session on the music we learn about in the Tuesday section. Our small class consists of a drummer, bassist, saxophonist, trumpet player, guitarist, female lead vocalist, and myself, doubling on piano/keyboard and lead vocal. We played the blues, moved into 50’s R&B ala LaVern Baker and The Flamingoes, played some typical rock n’ roll tunes by Chuck Berry and others, and now we’re deep into our soul unit (probably my favorite area of black music.) Next on the agenda? Funk. James Brown, here we come.

Black music has always been a fascination of mine for my entire life. I always felt left out in conversations about the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Incubus or Dave Matthews. Now I’m in my element. This class is me.

So whatever your tastes, whatever your hobbies, whatever your obsession is, chances are William & Mary has a class for you– some place where you feel like you belong.

Categories: Academics, Arts & Culture, Student Blogs

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