Kelsey Klotz

Kelsey Klotz is a lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has a Ph.D. in musicology from Washington University in St. Louis. She is currently working on a book project titled Dave Brubeck and the Performance of Whiteness, under contract with Oxford University Press, which uses Brubeck’s mid-century performance of Whiteness across his professional, private, and political lives as a starting point to understand mid-century Whiteness, privilege, and White supremacy more fully.

Posts by Kelsey Klotz

On Loving America

I suppose I was drawn to Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” in the days following January 6 because of the way it unveils violence and abuse masquerading as love. Politicians and citizens holding vastly different ideologies fought to control what loving America is, what that love looks like, and who is capable of expressing that love. In the midst of varying ideas and ideals about what America is, love was repeatedly invoked.

The Vacuous Consumption of the Urban Hipster

Starbucks uses for its in-stores soundtrack music celebrating individual tenacity and collective rebellion, but that supposed renegade spirit takes on a different context when the soundtrack is bebop jazz, and two African-American customers are arrested for failing to place their order in due time.

Dogmatism and the Judgments of the Music Critic

The reason the Grammys repeatedly lead to such a feeling of disappointment and letdown is, ultimately, because the Grammys in their current form cannot possibly reflect the intersecting and complicated notions of musical value held by its audience. The best the Recording Academy can do—and indeed, what the Academy should do—is make transparent its musical priorities.

The Sorrows of Being a Millennial

Just as scholars consider how baby boomers’ Cold War experiences shaped their understandings of global politics, will future historians ask how millennials’ active shooter drills shaped their understandings of national politics?

The Uneasy Past of the Veiled Prophet Organization: Part II

For more than a century, the Veiled Prophet Organization has faced race-based protests; however, during all of that time, the organization has been able to claim innocence against racism based on historical context: they made no explicitly racist comments in public, and their exclusionary practices were the same as other fraternal organizations.

An Album While You Wait

Throughout her career thus far (it is hard to remember that she is just 33 years old), Esperanza Spalding has proven that hers is a unique voice in the music industry, easily crossing genre boundaries, yet continuously lauded by jazz musicians and audiences.

The Body in Question: Herbie Hancock in Concert

What happens to the body in technologically-mediated live performances, particularly those that continue to be defined as jazz by many audiences? The music of Herbie Hancock, in many ways, answers that question.

Body and Soul

When recognition is embodied, it is nearly impossible to ignore.

The Other Face of Racism

Identifying racism is an important step in stemming its tide, but we (and I speak specifically to white people) must be willing and able to consider that racism might look and sound like ourselves.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Wonder Woman!

Despite the easy, pseudo-feminist promotion of Diana as “strong,” Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins ultimately created a character who can contain a multitude of expressions that can simultaneously reinforce and disrupt typical gender norms.

The Art of the Mistake

Theories of mistakes in jazz scholarship helps us understand the ways in which mistakes in jazz performance are valued by audiences and performers—and the ways in which they are not.

Bittersweet Symphonies

What happens when different musical genres and their associated connotations—as represented in musicians, styles of music, and surroundings—collide?

Hamilton is Innovative, But Not Quite Revolutionary

The ways in which Lin-Manuel Miranda reverses traditional accounts of musical history by focusing on values taken from popular music, rather than values from art music, often contributes to critiques that view Hamilton as a problematic example of a progressive historical narrative.

The Absent Women of Jazz

Whether as audience members, scholars, or performers, women have been in short supply throughout jazz history. The representation of jazz in the films La La Land (2016) and Whiplash (2014), by director and writer Damien Chazelle, demonstrates this problem clearly.

Rhyme and No Reason

Rapper T.I. tunes listeners’ ears backward in time, to the end of the Civil Rights Movement and the death of Martin Luther King Jr., but also forward to our current time in which he believes white supremacy “is covertly done.”

Notes of Refrain

While a blanket license may cover musicians’ compensation and thus make the playing of their music perfectly legal, musicians may still protest the use of their voice and allure for purposes they find inauthentic to their image, brand, and identity. When it comes to music in politics, total harmony ranges beyond money.

Campaign That Tune

Using a common language, whether verbal or musical, can ultimately create a community of people (in this case political supporters) that votes, sings, speaks, and even feels similarly. A candidate’s repertoire of songs can, in effect, address voters’ concerns.

Brazil’s Black and Tan Fantasy of Whiteness

Brazil’s showcasing of “The Girl from Ipanema” at the Rio 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremony demonstrated the extent to which Brazil, and the famous bossa nova song, construct a national story celebrating diversity while also relying on symbols rooted in stereotypes.

Zombie Music

“Jazz is dead!” “Long live jazz!” These competing diagnoses define the genre and its evolving boundaries. And that means a future of interesting music.

Miles Ahead

The recent film Miles Ahead says a lot about how Miles Davis treated women and, by extension, the ways jazz fans view his legacy.