Ambre DromGoole

2024 Keynote
Implicit Religion US
June 5 2024, OnlINe CST

2024 Implicit Religion US Keynote: Dr. AMbre DroMGOOlE

Live On Forever: Curating a Post-Mortem Mythos

My endeavors into gospel composer Roxie Moore’s archive began at her keyboard, a keyboard I lived with for days on end as I tarried with the intersection of memories and materials made sacred through encounters with her friends and family - whose words animated the life of a loved one long past. Materials included liner notes stuffed in the pockets of mixed CDs honoring the work of people whose contributions were unknown in life, letters written to music publishing companies advocating on behalf of one’s unrecognized labor, and postcards from close friends to whom the world ascribed musical fame. What power do these materials hold when considered alongside the unknown (spiritual) lives of contributors to the twentieth-century soundscape? What do we make of the passing down of these materials through matrilineal lines in hopes that one day someone heeds the call of post-mortem mythology? This keynote presentation will consider the ways in which Roxie Moore’s auto-archival practices indicate equal intentionality in creating and cultivating her own post-mortem image. Her archive is the keyhole through which I peer into a complicated, multifaceted twentieth century music scene as well as the performative choices of a woman who may have deliberately kept herself at its margins.

ABout Ambre DromGoOle

Headshot of Ambre Dromgoole, with shoulders visible.  A Black woman, with eyeglasses, smiling and with hair bound up with printed band , She is wearing tan blazer and beige blouse
Ambre Dromgoole is an assistant professor of Africana religions and music in the Africana Studies & Research Center at Cornell University. Her work centers the composition, perception, and projections of Black sacred soundings across different social contexts, the ways that gender is (re)constituted in these spaces, and the artistic innovation that occurs outside the purview of traditionally recognized social, educational, and ecclesial institutions. She received her B.A. in Religion and Musical Studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory in 2015, her M.A. from Yale Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music in 2017, and her PhD from Yale University in 2023.

Her current book project is the first of its kind to document the twentieth century history of itinerant women gospel musicians as a collective, paying particular attention to their musical trainings as girls in Afro- Protestant contexts as well as their formation in the entertainment industry. It asks what the combined lived experiences, sonic performances, and working-class consciousness of missionaries turned gospel blues progenitors can reveal about Black cultural hybridity, legibility, plurality, and music education and practice. The girls and women she engages constantly find themselves negotiating the spaces where the plain-clothed culture of Black Christian respectability encounters the space of sexual and musical social risk reflected in blues culture and the economy of sex

Dr. Domgoole was a featured expert scholar for the PBS series Ritual and for Religion News Service. Her writings can be found in Revealer Magazine and her voice can be heard on Classical Ideas Podcast. Additionally, she has and continues to collaborate with both local and national organizations such as  Sound Diplomacy, the Center for Music Ecosystems, the National Museum of African American Music, and the Nashville Symphony

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