Black Sounds Matter


Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 4:30pm

FREE! Reservations required.

John Dankwa
Assistant Professor of Music, Wesleyan University
Indigenizing the Catholic Mass: Gyil Music in Dagara Catholic Churches in Northwestern Ghana

Su Zheng
Associate Professor of Music, Affiliated Faculty of East Asian Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Wesleyan University
“Voice of Friendship”—Black Sounds in a Rising China

Moderated by Professor of Music Jay Hoggard.



John Dankwa (Ph.D.) is an ethnomusicologist and performer who specializes in African music. His performance area ranges from West African traditional drumming to African pop and art music. Dankwa is currently the director of the West African Drumming and African Pop Music ensembles at Wesleyan. He is also the music director of Ghana Methodist Church choirs in the United States and Canada. As a scholar, Dankwa’s current research focuses on Dagara xylophone music tradition in northwestern Ghana. His book-in-progress, When the Gyil Speaks, is a study of meaning in Dagara xylophone music. Based on extensive fieldwork in northwestern Ghana, Dankwa’s work weaves together Dagara cultural narratives and ethnomusicological theories to illuminate how a single instrument and the music it performs can be invested with so much meaning in the cultural matrix within which it operates. He has presented his work on Dagara music in academic conferences, book chapters, and journal articles.

Su Zheng is an Associate Professor of Music, East Asian Studies (Affiliated), and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (Affiliated) at Wesleyan University. A feminist ethnomusicologist of Asian American, East Asian, and diasporic music culture, and the faculty co-founder of Wesleyan’s Chinese Music Ensemble, Taiko Ensemble, and Korean Drumming Ensemble, Zheng is author of Claiming Diaspora: Music, Transnationalism, and Cultural Politics in Chinese/Asian America (Oxford University Press, 2010). She is a recipient of the ACLS/CSCC (Committee on Scholarly Communication with China) National Program for Advanced Study and Research in China Fellowship, as well as the Fulbright U.S. Senior Research Scholar award (China).


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