Faculty Spotlight: Naomi André
The Department of Music is pleased to welcome Dr. Naomi André as the David G. Frey Distinguished Professor in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She officially joined the faculty on July 1, 2022 and begins teaching classes in Fall 2023 after taking leave during the 2022-23 academic year to conduct research at the National Humanities Center.
“Dr. André is a pathbreaking musicologist with research and teaching specializations in opera in the United States, Europe, and South Africa from the 18th century to the present; in the intersections of race, gender, nation, sexuality, and socioeconomic access in music; and in African performance studies,” remarked professor and [then] chair Dr. David Garcia. “She is an amazing addition to our distinguished faculty across the department!”
Dr. André already has numerous ties to the department, serving as a dissertation committee member for a handful of graduate students in the department. She was also the 2018 James W. Pruett Lecture speaker, for which she delivered a lecture titled, “Black Opera and Working Catfish Role: Engaging Black Experience in Opera.” As Mark Katz, professor and chair of the Frey professorship committee, remarked, “Although Dr. André will be a new addition to our faculty, she’s very well known to our department. Many of us have worked with her in various professional capacities, and some of us have known her for more than 25 years. We’re delighted to be able to call her our colleague now.”
Recent alumna A. Kori Hill enjoyed working with Dr. André, who served on Hill’s dissertation committee. “I am so, so happy that current and future UNC students will have the opportunity to study with Dr. André. She approaches research, scholarship, and mentorship with an eagerness and passion nothing short of inspirational,” noted Hill. “We are blessed to be able to read her work and hear her thoughts and learn from her in real time.”
“It is really a joy to have the opportunity to be in the midst of such a distinguished and thoughtful group of music scholars and artists. After spending twenty years outside of a music department, I’m very glad to be joining a top music program where the academic and performance worlds inform each other in exciting ways,” remarked Dr. André. “I’m impressed with the dedication the music faculty has shown in shaping their curricula to highlight music from the past and present while breaking down elitist hierarchies and creating a relevant path forward. How we tell the narrative of musical works and styles over time, how we create our music historiography, says a lot about where we have been, who we are now, and what we can become.”
For more information on Dr. André’s prestigious career and research, please see her biography below.
Dr. André received her B.A. in music from Barnard College and M.A. and Ph.D. in musicology from Harvard University. She is currently a professor at the University of Michigan in the Departments of Afroamerican and African Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Residential College.
Dr. André’s research focuses on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race. Her publications include topics on Italian opera, Schoenberg, women composers, and teaching opera in prisons. Her books, including, Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera (2006) and Blackness in Opera (2012, edited collection) focus on opera from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries and explore constructions of gender, race and identity. African Performance Arts and Political Acts (2021, co-edited collection) focuses on how performance and the arts shape the narratives of cultural history and politics on the African continent. Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (2018) is a monograph on staging race and history in opera today in the United States and South Africa. She has served on the Graduate Alumni Council for Harvard University’s Graduate School of Art and Sciences, the Executive Committee for the Criminal Justice Program at the American Friends Service Committee (Ann Arbor, MI), and has served as an evaluator for the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program.
In 2019, Dr. André was named the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the Seattle Opera which has continued to the present. In her role, she advises Seattle Opera staff and leadership on matters of race and gender in opera; consults in artistic planning as it relates to representation of race and gender; and participates in company panel discussions, podcast recordings, and contributes essays to opera programs. She has continued to work with major and regional opera companies through panels, short residencies, and program essays.
In addition, Dr. André has worked with every major opera company in the United States and many regional opera companies and festivals. This summer she is a scholar-in-residence for the Des Moines Metro Opera. She has written program essays for recordings of Blue (CD, Tesori and Thompson, 2022) and Fire Shut Up in My Bones (DVD Blanchard and Lemmons 2022). On February 4, 2022 she testified before the Committee on the Judiciary as a Witness for House Resolution 301 hearing “Examining the History and Importance of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ to become a National Hymn” (sponsored by Congressman James E. Clyburn, South Carolina).
by Catherine Zachary ’10