Kay Kaufman Shelemay

Kay Kaufman Shelemay

Chair, Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, Rights
G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music
Professor of African and African American Studies
Kay Kaufman Shelemay

B.M. (1970), M.A. (1972), and Ph.D. (1977), University of Michigan. She taught at Columbia University (1977-1982), New York University (1982-1990), and Wesleyan University (1990-1992), before joining the Harvard faculty in 1992. At Harvard, Shelemay has served as Chair of the Department of   Music and is active in interdisciplinary studies across several domains.  A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy for Jewish Research, the American Philosophical Society, and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, she is Past President  of the Society for Ethnomusicology. A Congressional appointee to the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center from 2000-2013,  she was Chair of that Board from 2002-2004.  Shelemay has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment of the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Radcliffe Institute.  She was named the Chair in Modern Culture at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress during 2007-2008.

In addition to longtime interests in musical ethnography and music and memory, Shelemay's current research is on Ethiopian music and musicians in their North American diaspora. Her monograph Music, Ritual, and Falasha History (1986, 1989) won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award and the Prize of the International Musicological Society. In addition to the seven-volume collection Garland Readings in Ethnomusicology (1990) and A Song of Longing. An Ethiopian Journey (1991), Shelemay edited the three-volume Ethiopian Christian Liturgical Chant. An Anthology (1994, 1995, 1997, with Peter Jeffery). Other recent publications include Let Jasmine Rain Down. Song and Remembrance Among Syrian Jews (1998, finalist for the National Jewish Book Award) andSoundscapes. Exploring Music in a Changing World (2001, 2006, Third edition 2014). She has co-edited Pain and Its Transformations. The Interface of Biology and Culture (with Sarah Coakley), published by Harvard University Press in 2007. Her co-edited volume "Creating the Ethiopian Diaspora: Perspectives from Across the Disciplines, published in the journal Diaspora in 2011, will be reissed under the same title by Tsehai Publishers in 2014.   Shelemay received an Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Columbia  University School of General Studies in 1982; the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize and the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize at Harvard in 2006; and the 2014 Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Harvard GSAS Graduate Student Council.

Contact Information

Music Building, North Yard
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: 617-495-4008

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