Floyd, Samuel A. 1937–

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Floyd, Samuel A. 1937–

(Samuel Alexander Floyd, Jr.)

PERSONAL: Born February 1, 1937, in Tallahassee, FL; son of Samuel A. and Theora (Combs) Floyd; married Barbara Jean Nealy (a retail manager), 1956; children: Wanda, Cecilia, Samuel A. III. Ethnicity:"African American." Education: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, B.S., 1957; Southern Illinois University—Carbondale, M.M.E., 1965, Ph.D., 1969.

ADDRESSES: Home—901 South Plymouth Ct., #206, Chicago, IL 60605. Office—Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College, 600 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605.

CAREER: Smith-Brown High School, Arcadia, FL, band director, 1957–62; Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, FL, instructor in music and assistant director of bands, 1962–64; Southern Illinois University—Carbondale, Carbondale, IL, 1964–78, began as instructor, became associate professor of music; Fisk University, Nashville, TN, professor of music and founder and director of Institute for Research in Black American Music, 1978–83; Columbia College, Chicago, IL, founder and director of Center for Black Music Research, 1983–90, 1993–2002, academic dean, 1990–93, provost and interim vice president for academic affairs, 1999–2000, consultant to and director emeritus of Center for Black Music Research, 2002–. Member of advisory panel on the performing arts for Illinois Arts Council, 1977; consultant and panelist for the Southern Regional Conference on the Funding of Research in the Humanities, University of Georgia, 1980. Guest lecturer at a number of colleges and universities, including California State University—Los Angeles, 1980, Eastern Illinois University, 1981 and 1982, Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, 1982, Music Department, Morgan State University, 1982 and 1983, University of Michigan, 1985, Purdue University, 1988, and University of Mississippi, 1987 and 1989; Ford Foundation Visiting Lecturer, Center for the Study of Southern Culture, University of Mississippi, 1989; scholar in residence, Bellagio Study and Conference Center, 1995. Proposal reviewer for the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1977–, and for the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, 1977. Field Interviewer for the Smithsonian Institution's Jazz Oral History Program, 1977. Consultant to the Office for the Advancement of Public Negro Colleges, 1976–77; general consultant to the Fisk University Learning Library Program, 1981–83. Member of board of directors of Southern Illinois University Employees Credit Union, 1975–77, Nashville Institute for the Arts, 1979–82, John W. Work Foundation, 1979–83, and member of City/Arts Panel for Chicago Office of Fine Arts, beginning 1986.

MEMBER: American Musicological Society, College Music Society (national council member, 1978–80), Sonneck Society, Pi Kappa Lambda.

AWARDS, HONORS: Southern Illinois University research grants, 1970–77; Newbery Library grants, 1972 and 1979; National Endowment for the Humanities research grants, 1976 and 1980; National Endowment for the Humanities grants, 1976, 1980, 1985, and 1987; National Endowment for the Arts grants, 1976 and 1989; Illinois Arts Council grant, 1976; Carbondale Bicentennial Committee grant, 1976; Justin and Valere Potter Foundation grant, 1979; Tennessee Arts Commission grant, 1979; National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College Teachers grants, 1985 and 1990; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation grants, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988; Distinguished Contributions to Music Award, National Association of Negro Musicians, 1986; Borg-Warner Foundation grants, 1987 and 1988; Robert R. McCormick Charitable Trust grant, 1988–90; Sara Lee Foundation grant, 1989; Arie and Ida Crown Foundation grant, 1989; Ruth Allen Fouche Heritage of Black Music Award, Chicago Park District, 1989, for outstanding contributions to the black cultural arts and music; Young Executives in Politics Award, Chicago, IL, 1989, for outstanding achievement in fine arts; Joyce Foundation grant, 1990; Irving Lowens Award, Sonneck Society for American Music, 1991, for distinguished scholarship in American music; National Humanities Institute fellowships, 1992 and 1996; The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States was named an Outstanding Academic Book for 1995 by Choice magazine.


Ninety-nine Street Beats, Cadences, and Exercises for Percussion, Hansen Publishing, 1961.

One Hundred One Street Beats, Cadences, and Exercises for Percussion, Hansen Publishing, 1965.

Contemporary Exercises and Cadences for Marching Percussion, University of Miami Music Publications, 1975.

(Editor) The Great Lakes Experience: An Oral History, Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, IL), 1977.

(With Marsha J. Reisser) Black Music in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Reference and Research Sources, Kraus International (Hackensack, NY), 1983.

Black Music Biography: An Annotated Bibliography, Kraus International (Hackensack, NY), 1987.

(Editor and contributor) Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance: A Collection of Essays, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1990.

(Coeditor) New Perspectives on Music: Essays in Honor of Eileen Southern, Harmonie Park Press (Warren, MI), 1992.

The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1995.

Editor, Black Music Research Newsletter, 1977–, and Black Music Research Journal, 1980–; editor in chief, International Dictionary of Black Composers, Fitzroy Dearborn (Chicago, IL), 1999; member of editorial board of Black Perspective in Music, 1979–, and American Music, 1984–. Contributor to journals, including Illinois Music Education, Music and Man, School Musician, Chronicle of Higher Education, Black Music Research Journal, Black Perspective in Music, and Music Educator's Journal.

SIDELIGHTS: Samuel A. Floyd, the founder and director emeritus of the Center for Black Music Research based at Columbia College, has had an important impact in the field of musicology through his research and writings linking black music (and its subsequent influence on Western music) with the cultural history of the African-American people. As he once told CA: "My concerns are with stimulating research activity in the field of black music and the encouragement of their eventual inclusion in mainstream writing. The academic writers who have had the most influence on my work are philosopher and scholar John Dewey—especially through his Art and Experience—and Harvard professor Eileen Southern, author of The Music of Black Americans and other works. Dewey's concepts of history, continuity, and art guide my aesthetic, historical, and literary thinking; Southern's works stand as exemplars of impeccable scholarship and stimulate my scholarly activity."

Floyd's work has brought to his readers a better understanding of the history and importance of black music in American culture. One way he has done this is by helping found (through the Center for Black Music Research) the Black Music Repertory Ensemble, an ensemble of fifteen musicians who travel the country performing musical works by often forgotten but still important African-American composers. He has also accomplished this through his editing and writing of scholarly works. For example, in Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance: A Collection of Essays, which Floyd edited and to which he also contributed an essay, he endeavors to show that the Harlem Renaissance was not only a literary movement but also a musical one. He further suggests that the influence of black music on this movement can be dated back as far as the 1890s. "It also points out," according to Marshall Bialosky in American Music, "that all the action in the movement did not take place in Harlem, but that other parts of the United States and Europe were involved, although the creative artists discussed here may not have thought of themselves as part of a larger movement." By broadening his readers' view of the scope of black music during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Floyd's "Black Music fills a large gap in the documentation and history of the musical component of the Harlem Renaissance," concluded Bialosky.

With Floyd's ambitious The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States, the author makes a convincing case for how African-American music has its roots in African and not European sources. "The argument that Samuel Floyd makes in The Power of Black Music is a compelling one that demands serious considerations," reported Christopher Brooks in African American Review. "It offers and affirms many ideas, challenges old assumptions, and suggests new approaches to existing ideas. It is a well-researched book and draws on many sources both printed and recorded to support the argument." Over the course of the work, Floyd shows how several core elements of African music, including such structural tropes as the "ring" or "ring shout," the "call and response," the importance of dance, drum, and song, and certain mythological and symbolic elements, can be discovered in all types of genres of black music, from gospel and blues to jazz, ragtime, Motown, and even symphonic pieces, such as William Grant Still's 1930 work, "Afro-American Symphony."

While at first unconvinced by "Floyd's concept of cultural memory," Brooks admitted that his viewpoint was eventually swayed because "Floyd's ample illustrations of this concept not only become clear, but very plausible" through his analyses of individual works. Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., writing in American Music, called The Power of Black Music "a powerful book. Floyd addresses one of the more difficult (and lately controversial) tasks facing music scholars today: theorizing the link between a music's syntax and social constructions such as gender or, in this case, ethnic identity." Ramsey later asserted that "by showing that … [various] musical tropes were repeated with differences among musical texts, and even between various genres, Floyd uses the Call-Response framework to sketch a fast-paced history of black musical troping in the United States from slavery to the present." While Ramsey felt that Floyd might have dug even deeper into his research to expand upon his arguments, Ramsey concluded that "this book will be considered a definitive study in black musical aesthetics." And Brooks added that "although everyone may not agree with Floyd's conclusions or may find that his interpretations stretch some traditionally held views, there is something in this volume for everyone."



African American Review, fall, 1997, Christopher Brooks, review of The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States, p. 540.

American Music, winter, 1993, Marshall Bialosky, review of Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance: A Collection of Essays, p. 502; spring, 1998, Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., review of The Power of Black Music, p. 95.

American Visions, February, 1996, Dale Edwyna Smith, review of The Power of Black Music, p. 34; August-September, 1996, Henry Chase, "They Too Compose America: The Black Music Repertory Ensemble and Contemporary Formal Music," p. 18.

Ebony, February, 1996, "Where Will Blacks Be 50 Years from Now?," p. 44.

Library Journal, September 1, 1999, Dan Bogey, review of International Dictionary of Black Composers, p. 180; April 15, 2000, Brian E. Coutts and John B. Richard, review of International Dictionary of Black Composers, p. 57.

Notes, March, 1994, Ingrid Monson, review of New Perspectives on Music: Essays in Honor of Eileen Southern, p. 983; December, 1996, Suzanne Eggleston, "Lennox Avenue: A Journal of Interartistic Inquiry," p. 536.