Publication Date

April 2016


Patricia Hill


American Studies (AMST)


English (United States)


This thesis aims to illustrate how black crossover music perpetuates a condition of racial crisis within the American music industry. By examining the artistic and economic strategies of the soul singer Sam Cooke through the lens of racial performativity, this thesis considers how dynamic performances of blackness trouble the boundaries and significations of race and genre. Historicizing the development of the “race music” industry and drawing connections to the work of musicians like Mamie Smith, Nina Simone, Beyoncé, and Kendrick Lamar, this thesis discusses the political implications of black sounds in the mainstream and thinks forward to the radical potential of “crossing over.”



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