Image from video © Mellonee Burnim
This tape series from 1979 features performances of African American gospel music in two very distinct settings-Grace Apostolic Church in Indianapolis, Indiana and St. James United Methodist Church
in Teague, Texas, the hometown of the collector, Mellonee Burnim
These video materials formed the basis of Burnim's
1980 dissertation entitled "The Black Gospel Music Tradition: Symbol of Ethnicity" (Indiana University).
This study reveals areas of consonance and dissonance in gospel music as it is performed in churches of different sizes, geographical contexts, and denominations.
Mellonee Burnim is a professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Director of the Ethnomusicology Institute, and adjunct professor in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University.
area of specialization is African American music with a particular emphasis on gospel music.
is a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of North Texas
and was selected as the first Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Ethnomusicology
and Ritual Studies at the Yale Institute for Sacred Music
As a performer-scholar Burnim has done fieldwork and led workshops on African American religious music across the United States, as well as in Cuba, Liberia, and Malawi.
She has also served as director of church choirs of various denominations in both rural and urban settings in the United States.
writings on African American religious music and theoretical issues in ethnomusicology appear in a number of edited volumes and journals, including Ethnomusicology
, The Western Journal of Black Studies
, and the Music Educator's Journal
, among others.
Burnim is co-editor with Portia Maultsby of African American Music: An Introduction (Routledge Press, 2006).