Fellows class

TED2009

About Kyra

Bio

Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D., a singer-songwriter versed in classical music, jazz and R&B songwriting, an adjunct associate professor of ethnomusicology, cultural anthropology and sociology and as a social media expert.

Currently, I am an Adjunct Associate Professor at Baruch College at the City University of New York. I identify as a black feminist ethnomusicologist specializing in the study and performance of musical blackness and digital ethnography on YouTube. My next book is a digital ethnography of black girls’ twerking and music-related videos on YouTube.

This digital work expands on my previous scholarship The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop, which won the Alan Merriam Prize for the most outstanding English-speaking monograph awarded by the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) in 2007.

Former SEM president Deborah Wong described the book as “a radical counter-history [showing] how African American girls—interlocutors who are triply minoritized through race, gender, and age—are producing music culture that has profound influences on [adult] popular music and the popular imagination. She calls for an engaged ethnomusicology and moves gracefully through an array of anti-essentialist perspectives on race and gender. She argues that ‘kinetic orality’ is key to African American musicking and that the body is always a locus of memory and communality. From somatic historiography to serious cross-talk with girls, Gaunt offers new methodologies for ethnomusicological work.”

As both a scholar and a performer, I bring a committed advocacy for empowering emerging adults to become consumers of their own productivity—great citizens and professionals now not when you graduate—while demonstrating the value of a diverse and communal intellectual and cross-ethnic engagement that needs to be cultivated in our gadget-distracted age especially in higher education.

She is a sought-after international speaker, a connector and a successful curator of several e-books she self-published including Could You Be Bigger? , a set of op-eds by emerging adults on structural racism.

Her original music is available on CDBaby and iTunes. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook @kyraocity. Her website is kyraocity.wordpress.com

Education

  • SUNY Binghamton; Classical Voice Performance, 1985 - 1988
  • American University; Classical Voice Performance, B.A., 1982 - 1988
  • University of Michigan - School of Music; Doctorate in Classical Voice, Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, 1988 - 1997
  • Montgomery College - Rockville; A.A. Classical Voice Performance, 1979 - 1981

Job Titles

Writer, Speaker, Trainer, Singer-Songwriter, Vocal Performer, Designer of Conversational Environments, Consultant

Latest Tweet

RT @FastCompany: A guide to unplugging from the Internet this summer: http://t.co/dB5FWVvu8n #unplug http://t.co/yNurgd8QSj via @baratunde
1 Aug

About Kyra Gaunt’s work

Inspired by TEDTalks students from several anthropology classes joined me in an educational project that raised consciousness about the world while we raised money to donate laptops. Baruch College-CUNY represented one of the most ethnically diverse colleges in the USA. The student body represented 160 countries. Since the One Laptop Per Child campaign was devoted to many of the places that my students immigrated from, this was a perfect way to educate the student body at Baruch AND make a difference in their other homes outside the U.S. "If we gave you $199 US dollars, how much could you buy in your home country?" This was about being responsive from your seat in the classroom. No more ivory tower.

Companies and organizations

Baruch College-CUNY, KyraocityWorks

Fellows I'm collaborating with

Andrew Nemr, Jasmeen Patheja, Yale Fox

Uploaded photos

Flickr

Projects

Give One Laptop Per Class

Apr. 12, 2008 - Dec. 22, 2010

Inspired by TEDTalks students from several anthropology classes joined me in an educational project that raised consciousness about the world while we raised money to donate laptops. Baruch College-CUNY represented one of the most ethnically diverse colleges in the USA. The student body represented 160 countries. Since the One Laptop Per Child campaign was devoted to many of the places that my students immigrated from, this was a perfect way to educate the student body at Baruch AND make a difference in their other homes outside the U.S. "If we gave you $199 US dollars, how much could you buy in your home country?" This was about being responsive from your seat in the classroom. No more ivory tower.

Project website

Education, Liberation, I LOVE YOU: a vocal memoir about teaching race and musical blackness

Jul. 17, 2013 - Feb. 14, 2014

My latest creative project is titled Education, Liberation--I Love You!: a vocal memoir of race and musical blackness. It is a one-woman show written and dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington that incorporates sound clips by Ossie Davis and Paul Robeson, video by artist Pierre Bennu and portraiture of brothers from Brooklyn by engagement photographer Parris Whittingham. For me, the work is a tribute to my teaching, to gender, to being a black daughter who forgave her father, and herself for judging black boys in a time where loving myself as a single, black woman is hard.

A People's Digital History of Black Music

Oct. 16, 2013 - Present

From crowdsourcing memories of students and the elders first witnessing black and/or people of African descent making music or dancing since 1996, I recently realized the power of digitally collecting these intergenerational memories of Duke Ellington or ordinary dancers in non-conventional settings and situations. The study of musical blackness needs a sociological database that is both qualitative and quantitative for research and for gaining more understanding into the humanity beyond a global fascination and passion for the music and its people.