Jade Conlee

Jade Conlee's picture

Jade Conlee is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Music Department, expected to graduate in 2024. She specializes in antiracist and anticolonial approaches to the history of American popular music and twentieth-century histories of music theory. Her research works broadly across the music disciplines and engages with Black studies, Indigenous studies, media theory, and the environmental humanities to demonstrate how music and sound mediate our relationships to race, place, and the natural world. Her dissertation, “Empire’s Sonic Atmospheres: Background Music and Racial Worldmaking,” (advised by Michael Veal) studies how background music facilitated the expansion of American empire in the Pacific from the 1950s to present. Drawing on historical and ethnographic methods, it explores how background musicians and listeners have used music to depict the feel of tropical space, and in doing so, forged and contested the spatial imaginaries of U.S. colonialism. Jade is also co-editor of the edited collection Insurgent Music Theory: Terminology and Critical Methods for Antiracist Music Studies, under advance contract with the University of Michigan Press’ “Music and Social Justice” series. Drawing on critiques of Enlightenment humanism from Black and Indigenous studies, the book reimagines music theory’s epistemological foundations by redefining and expanding the field’s core terminology. Jade has presented her work at AMS, SMT, SAM, IASPM, Pop Con, and the Music Studies and the Anthropocene Research Network. Trained as a pianist specializing in contemporary repertoires, Jade stays active as a musician accompanying local choirs. In her free time, she likes to kayak Connecticut’s marshlands and play with her terrier, Fern.

Program Type: 
Music Theory