Music Department event: Lecture by Revell Carr


[category, uc davis events]



Image of “’The Celebrated Sandwich Island Hula! Hula!’––Native Hawaiian Performance in Nineteenth Century California”James Revell Carr, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology (University of North Carolina, Greensboro).
April 21, 2016 – 4:00pm – 5:30pm

Histories of nineteenth-century Hawai’i have tended to portray Native Hawaiians as culturally isolated, and confined to plantations in a remote part of the world, but this overlooks the thousands of Hawaiians who engaged in maritime industries that took them all over the world. By the mid-nineteenth century thousands of Hawaiians lived and worked in North America, from the Northwest fur trade to the Northeast whaling industry to the California gold fields. Everywhere they went, Hawaiians brought their music and dance, through which they expressed their experiences, their opinions, their politics, and their passions. This presentation will examine Native Hawaiians who voyaged to, or settled in, California in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and performed their music and dance for cosmopolitan audiences, including the first tour organized specifically to present a professional, programmed hula show that played California mining towns in 1862. Diverse Euro-American attitudes toward Hawaiian music shaped the variety of strategies that Hawaiians used to communicate the artfulness of their culture to non-Hawaiian audiences––adapting Christian hymnody, appropriating blackface minstrelsy, and secularizing their own traditional sacred music and dance. I hope to show that Hawaiians were not passive in the global commercialization of their music and dance during the nineteenth century, but rather were conscious actors who allied with sympathetic Americans in an effort to control and shape the interpretation of their culture to a degree rarely acknowledged.

James Revell Carr, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology (University of North Carolina, Greensboro) holds a bachelor of art’s degree in creative writing from Hamilton College, a master of art’s degree in folklore from the University of Oregon, and a PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He teaches courses in American vernacular music and non-Western music cultures, and he directs the UNCG Old Time Ensemble. Carr’s research focuses on the importance of travel and commerce in the development of hybrid music and dance cultures around the world. His major interests include sea chanteys, Hawaiian music, Anglo-American balladry, folk music revivals, and improvisational rock.

Carr’s first book, Hawaiian Music in Motion: Mariners, Missionaries, and Minstrels (University of Illinois Press, 2014), about the influence of American sailors on Hawaiian music in the nineteenth century, was a co-recipient of the Society of Ethnomusicology’s Alan P. Merriam Prize for outstanding book in ethnomusicology for 2015. Carr has also published essays in numerous books about the legendary rock band The Grateful Dead, and he has articles and reviews in the Journal of American Folklore, The Yearbook for Traditional Music, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History, The Journal of British Studies, American Historical Review, Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore, and others.

Free, no tickets necessary