Chair, Department of African American Studies
Cheryl L. Keyes is the author of Rap Music and Street Consciousness (University of Illinois Press), which received a CHOICE award for outstanding academic book titles. She has written numerous journal articles, essays, and reviews on hip-hop/rap and African American popular music. Amongst her most recent essay is “Long Live Hip-Hop: Hamilton and the Death (and Rebirth) of Hip-Hop” in the edited volume Dueling Grounds: Revolution and Revelation in the Musical Hamilton. Professor Keyes is also a member of the Executive Committee for the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s project, Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap, and help “stewarded the selection of nine CDs consisting of 129 tracks and a 300-page book” along with additional writing for the Anthology. On other fronts, Professor Keyes has been featured in public facing platforms as a critic and cultural consultant for the television mini-series documentary, Death Row Chronicles (BET) and for DreamWorks Animation’s film, Trolls World Tour (Universal Pictures), respectively.
Keyes’s scholarship has advanced into other areas including producing, writing, and directing a documentary (short) called Beyond Central Avenue: Contemporary Female Jazz Instrumentalists of Los Angeles. In addition, she has served as musical director for the “Lady Jazz: Blues in the Summertime” concert, commissioned by Instrumental Women Project™ for its Lady Jazz summer concert series held at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre and created and produced the concert Swinging to a World of Strings, presented at UCLA’s Schoenberg Auditorium and supported by the David and Irmgard Dobrow Fund.
In the area of performance, Professor Keyes is a pianist, flutist, singer, and composer with a list of credits. Most noted are performances with the All-Girl All-Star Invitational Band under the direction of the legendary jazz flugelhornist Clark Terry, and a featured artist-composer on The Other Side of Eddie Bo with New Orleans rhythm and blues icon Eddie Bo. She has recorded with jazz clarinetist-educator Alvin Batiste in which Keyes performs keyboards on Batiste’s debut album, Musique D’Afrique Nouvelle Orleans. She is a recipient of numerous awards: NAACP Image Award in the category of “Outstanding World Music Album” for her debut CD, Let Me Take You There (Keycan Records); Global Music Award Silver Medal for “Outstanding Achievement” for her double-single CD Hollywood and Vine (Keycan Records); and the Indiana University’s Herman C. Hudson Alumni Award.
Under leadership, Professor Keyes is currently chair of the Department of African American Studies at UCLA. She also holds a post on the Editorial Advisory Board for Society of Americanists Review (SOAR), the flagship journal for the Society of Americanists, and currently serves as chair of the Program Committee for the 2021 66th Annual Meeting for the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM). Keyes has formerly served in other capacities. Among these include President of the US Branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM-US); member of the Board of Directors for the SEM; chair of the Faculty Executive Committee for the School of Arts and Architecture at UCLA; Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA; Inaugural Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music; Director of Graduate Studies and Vice Chair for the Department of Ethnomusicology; and Chair of the Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Well-Being Sub-Committee for the UCLA Academic Senate Graduate Council.
African American music; rap/hip-hop music; gender in jazz and popular music studies; vernacular music and performance.
Ph.D. Ethnomusicology/Folklore, Indiana University; M. M.E. Music Education, Indiana University; B.M.E. Music Education, Xavier University of Louisiana