CCM hosts guest lecture on June Carter's impact on country music

Stephanie Vander Wel's free lecture on Friday, April 5 is presented in the CCM Baur Room

Each semester, CCM's Thinking About Music Series welcomes distinguished experts for musical discussions and lectures that are open to the general public and free to attend.

The series continues at 1:30 p.m. on Friday,  April 5, with a presentation by Stephanie Vander Wel, Associate Professor in the Department of Music and Global Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University at Buffalo. The title of  Vander Wel's talk is "Gendered Acts in Comedy: June Carter’s Vocal and Kinetic Performance in Country Music." The lecture will be presented in the CCM Baur Room.

About the Lecture

June Carter is typically known as a member of the country ensemble Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters as well as the self-sacrificing wife and duet partner of the iconic Man in Black, Johnny Cash. These modernist concepts of femininity linked to traditionalism and domesticity, however, have obscured Carter’s dynamic career as one of the most prominent comediennes in mid-century country music. This paper, thus, centers on Carter’s multi-faceted practices of adapting and modernizing the comedic tropes of early country music into her own performance style of the 1940s and 1960s. In a variety of media, Carter offered a kaleidoscopic array of gendered images that highlighted the kinetic and verbal excesses of the white unruly female rustic. Her strategies of aggressive and parodic vocal humor proved integral in her 1960s duets with Cash, revitalizing his failing career at the time, and broadening the expressive opportunities for other female artists, including Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. 

About the Guest Speaker

Stephanie Vander Wel.

Stephanie Vander Wel.

Stephanie Vander Wel is Associate Professor of Historical Musicology at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. Her research focuses on the singing voice, performance, and representations of gender, class, race, and region in country music. She is the author of book Hillbilly Maidens, Okies, and Singing Cowgirls: Women in Country Music, 1930-1960, published by University of Illinois Press in 2020 and named by PopMatters as one of the best nonfiction books of 2020. She is currently working on a book project focused on humor and comedy in women’s country music.

Learn more about Stephanie Vander Wel.

About CCM's Thinking About Music Lecture Series

Since its inception in 1997, CCM's Thinking About Music Series has presented nearly 130 lectures and one symposium by guests from a number of different colleges, universities, schools of music, foundations, institutes, museums and publications. The series is co-directed by Professor of Music Theory Steven Cahn and Associate Professor of Musicology Jeongwon Joe.

The subjects of the lectures have covered historical musicology, music theory and ethnomusicology, along with the ancillary fields of organology, dance, music business and law, cognitive psychology, and the philosophy, theology and sociology of music.

CCM’s Thinking About Music Series is sponsored by the Joseph and Frances Jones Poetker Fund of the Cambridge Charitable Foundation, Ritter & Randolph, LLC, Corporate Counsel; along with support from the Dean's Office, the Graduate Student Association and the Division of Composition, Musicology and Theory at CCM. These music theory and history discussions feature diverse topics presented by distinguished experts from all over the United States and are designed to engage participants’ imaginations and to consider music in new ways.

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Featured image at top: A decorative graphic containing the words "The Joseph and Frances Jones Poetker Thinking About Music Lecture Series." Graphic Design/Mikki Graff

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