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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Fortunato

Video – Thriving in Crisis: The Chick Webb Orchestra and the Great Depression

Thank you to Professor Christi Jay Wells for this seminar on Saturday, May 30, 2020.

⭐For ESL, you can follow along with the script here.

⭐The full dissertation can be found here.

Here is the video:

About our guest speaker, Christi Jay Wells Ph.D.

Christopher J. “Christi Jay” Wells is assistant professor of musicology at Arizona State University’s School of Music and affiliate faculty with ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. They received their doctorate in 2014 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where their dissertation on drummer/bandleader Chick Webb and swing music in Harlem during the Great Depression received the Society for American Music’s Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award and UNC’s Glen Haydon Award for an Outstanding Dissertation in Musicology. They have also received Videmus’s Edgar A. Toppin Award for Outstanding Research in African American Music, a Morroe Berger/Benny Carter Jazz Research Fellowship from the Institute of Jazz Studies, and the Irving Lowens Article Award from the Society for American Music. A social jazz and blues dancer for over a decade, Wells regularly places highly in blues dance competitions and is a frequent lecturer and clinician at national and international events, having recently taught blues and jazz dance classes and lectured on dance history in Seoul, South Korea and Hong Kong. Professor Wells is currently writing a book about the history of jazz music’s ever-shifting relationship with popular dance (under contract with Oxford University Press) and has published articles in the journals Women & Music, Jazz & Culture, Journal of the Society for American Music, and Daedalus as well as providing multiple chapters on jazz dance history topics for volumes in the Oxford Handbook series.


We are so lucky to have Christi Jay Wells speak on this subject. Their PhD dissertation Chick Webb won a major award: The Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award from the Society for American Music. 


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