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Reed College Professor of Music Mark Burford Wins Irving Lowens Article Award


Reed College Associate Professor of Music Mark Burford won the prestigious Irving Lowens Article Award for his piece on Sam Cooke that was published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society. The award is bestowed annually by the Society for American Music in recognition of an article that makes an outstanding contribution to American music studies.

Burford’s article, “Sam Cooke as Pop Album Artist—A Reinvention in Three Songs,” explores the interplay of gospel, pop, race, sexuality, and professional aspirations in Cooke’s early long-playing albums.  Burford considers how attention to Cooke’s endeavor to harness the prestige associated with the LP and the “album artist” illuminates his skills as a vocalist, the processes through which “pop” becomes racialized as white, and methodological challenges in the study of African American music.

Burford is a music historian with expertise in nineteenth-century Austro-German concert music and twentieth-century African American popular music. His work on European art music and popular music of the Americas has also appeared in the Journal of Musicology, 19th-Century Music, Current Musicology, Notes, and Musical Quarterly. His current research focuses on the circulation and reception of black gospel singing within U.S. popular culture during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Before coming to Reed in 2007, Burford taught at the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, where he was responsible for secondary and middle school education programs. He has also taught Western classical music and American vernacular music at Columbia University and City College of New York. He received a BA in music from the University of California at Santa Barbara and MA and PhD degrees in historical musicology from Columbia University.