Friday, July 24

the games black girls play:
kyra d. gaunt

book info: published by New York University Press (2006)
the author: Kyra Gaunt, professor of Ethnomusicology at NYU. Jazz vocalist, songwriter, and recording artist.

The Games Black Girls Play is an excellent non-fiction foray into the world of young black girls. For those growing up in the Black community, we can remember the sounds of Ms. Mary Mack and Rockin’ Robin as well as visualize the Double-Dutch ropes churning ever so rhythmically. In this work, Gaunt shows how these games not only set the foundation for ethnic identity, but for folk culture, and eventually pop culture (hip-hop, neo-soul, R&B). She sees the games as essential to the development of identity or blackness and a part of growing up. Her background in ethnomusicology allows her to give technical information about the ‘musical blackness’ learned in these games and how it transferred to modern musical forms. Surprisingly for most readers, this type of foundation can be found in the styles of modern rap music and hip-hop. In an interesting section Gaunt shows the creative source of Nelly’s Country Grammar(see below) and other not so obvious songs as rooted in these children’s games while discussing the role of gender interplay. For music heads, this is a must read!
(more after the jump)

quote: "Studying girls’ games need not, therefore, be confined to traditional folklore or vernacular studies. They, too, are part of contemporary and popular culture, and should not be relegated to the “other” categories of study and analysis that lie outside the artistic and popular." (p. 53)

The Hand Game: Down, Down, Baby

Nelly's Country Grammar