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The Games Black Girls Play


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Table of Contents

List of Musical Figures AcknowledgmentsIntroduction 1 Slide: Games as Lessons in Black Musical Style 2 Education, Liberation: Learning the Ropes of a Musical Blackness 3 Mary Mack Dressed in Black: The Earliest Formation of a Popular Music 4 Saw You With Your Boyfriend: Music between the Sexes 5 Who's Got Next Game? Women, Hip-Hop, and the Power of Language 6 Double Forces Has Got the Beat: Reclaiming Girls' Music in the Sport of Double-Dutch 7 Let a Woman Jump: Dancing with the Double Dutch Divas Conclusion Appendix: Musical Transcriptions of Game-Songs Studied Bibliography Index About the Author

About the Author

Kyra D. Gaunt is associate professor of ethnomusicology at Baruch College-CUNY. She lectures nationally and internationally on African Americans and Africans in the U.S. She is also a jazz vocalist, songwriter and recording artist.


2007 Alan Merriam Prize presented by the Society for Ethnomusicology 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Book Award Finalist"The Games Black Girls Play is beautifully and passionately written. This book presents an engaging reflexive narrative that ranges from childhood memories to involvement with ethnomusicological scholarship. Gaunt makes a convincing argument that the playsongs of African American girls is the foundation of African diasporic popular music-making. In a radical counter-history, she shows how African American girls-interlocutors who are triply minoritized through race, gender, and age-are producing music culture that has profound influences on popular music and the popular imagination. She calls for an engaged ethnomusicology and moves gracefully through an array of anti-essentialist perspectives on race and gender. She argues that 'kinetic orality' is key to African American musicking and that the body is always a locus of memory and communality. From somatic historiography to serious cross-talk with girls, Gaunt offers new methodologies for ethnomusicological work. The reader is pulled into a world in which Black girls are masters of musical knowledge, and in emerging from the book, we can't see the world of American popular music in the same way. When we chant Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack is dressed in black, black, black, with silver buttons, buttons, buttons, all down her back, back, back, we suddenly see how musical play and embodied knowledge generates a world of raced and gendered sociality. Oo-lay oo-lay! Congratulations, Kyra!" --President Elect Professor Deborah Wong, Society for Ethnomusicology (October 27, 2007)"Gaunt provides a layered and rich analysis of a cultural form that has been all but ignored by scholars far and wide" -Gender and Society"The Games Black Girls Play is an insightful inquiry into a frequently overlooked and influential site of cultural production." -Popular Music"Fusing academic prose with vividly rendered memories, Gaunt's journey is refreshing... Gaunt successfully lifts ignored girls from obscurity to center stage... With The Games Black Girls Play, Gaunt has created a necessary space for translating black girls' joy in a society that typically overlooks it. Hopefully, others will take their turn and jump in to keep the games going." --Bitch "In thoughtful and affectionate prose, Gaunt makes plain how the schoolyard syncopations of body and voice are both oral-kinetic play and improvised lessons in socializing girls into the unique social practices of black urban life... The Games Black Girls Play is a smart, delightful and witty polemic of attributions; a cultural benchmark of the complex web of history, race and gender to suggest a 'gendered musical blackness' and an 'ethnographic truth' linking the 'intergenerational cultures of black musical expression' as embodied in the infectious playfulness of black girls." --Black Issues Book Review "Very informative and insightful... A valuable source to add to one's collection." --AllHipHop.com"Gaunt's feminist ethnography challenges traditional approaches to scholarship in music studies and studies of black popular culture, as well as in African American studies and ethnomusicology more generally." -Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources "By placing black girls at the center of her analysis, Kyra Gaunt challenges us to be ever mindful of the importance of gender, the body, and the everyday in our discussions of black music. The Games Black Girls Play is an exciting and original work that should forever transform the way we think about the sources of black, indeed American, popular music. This is a bold, brilliant, and beautifully written book." --Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University "The Games Black Girls Play not only makes the point that black girls matter, but that the games, thoughts, and passions of black girls matter in a world that regularly renders black girls invisible and silent. Gaunt brilliantly argues that the culture of black girls is a critical influence on contemporary black popular culture." -- Mark Anthony Neal, author of New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity "A particular strength of Gaunt's text is the ethnographic dimension of her discussions. The reader is privy to the personal musical and cultural experiences of African American females of varying ages (including Gaunt herself)." --New Black Man Book Review "It is written in an accessible style and the inclusion of personal musical and cultural experiences and histories of a variety of women, including the author, adds to the appeal. The infectious playfulness of the topic and Gaunt's own personal style and passion shine though." --Journal of Folklore Research

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