Queer Arrangements is a new study of Billy Strayhorn that examines his music and career at the intersection of jazz and Black queer history that will be coming out October 3rd, 2023…
The legacy of Black queer composer, arranger and pianist Billy Strayhorn (1915–1967) hovers at the edge of canonical jazz narratives. Queer Arrangements explores the ways in which Strayhorn’s identity as an openly gay Black jazz musician shaped his career, including the creative roles he could assume and the dynamics between himself and his collaborators, most famously Duke Ellington, but also iconic singers such as Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald. This new portrait of Strayhorn combines critical, historically-situated close readings of selected recordings, scores and performances with biography and cultural theory to pursue alternative interpretive jazz possibilities, Black queer historical routes and sounds. By looking at jazz history through the instrument(s) of Strayhorn’s queer arrangements, this book sheds new light on his music and on jazz collaboration at midcentury.
Author Lisa Barg received her B.A. in Arts from Antioch College (1987), and her M.A. (1994) and Ph.D. (2001) in Music History from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is currently serving as the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. Professor Barg is the Co-editor-In-Chief of Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture.
Professor Barg’s research centers issues of gender, race, and sexuality in 20th-century music. She has published articles on race and modernist opera, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Melba Liston and Paul Robeson. She received the Kurt Weill Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in Music Theater for her article “Black Voices/White Sounds: Race and Representation in Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints and Three Acts,” and her article “Queer Encounters in the Music of Billy Strayhorn” was awarded the Philip Brett Award for exceptional musicological work in the field of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual studies. As a member of the Melba Liston Research Collective, Professor Barg served as a guest co-editor for a special issue of the Black Music Research Journal devoted to the career and legacy of Melba Liston. Professor Barg is currently the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, Associate Professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.