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 is also the author of the monograph, “Rap/Hip-Hop” in the Oxford Bibliographies in Music series. Her work in hip-hop studies is recognized amongst peers as the first ethnographic study on rap music. Additionally, Keyes has written essays on funk-rock diva Betty Mabry Davis, legendary jazz trombonist-composer-arranger Melba Liston, New Orleans piano rock pioneer Professor Longhair along with several publications in journals and as book chapters. She appeared as a critic in the television mini-series documentary, Death Row Chronicles (BET) and as a cultural consultant for DreamWorks Animation’s film, Trolls World Tour (Universal Pictures).
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 as producer for “Swinging to a World of Strings,” a concert at Schoenberg Auditorium at UCLA, 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 as a featured artist-composer on The Other Side of Eddie Bo with New Orleans rhythm and blues icon Eddie Bo. She has also recorded with jazz clarinetist-educator Alvin Batiste in which Keyes performs keyboards on Batiste’s debut album, Musique D’Afrique Nouvelle Orleans. Keyes 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. Over the years, Keyes has formerly served in various 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 Society for Ethnomusicology; Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee for the School of Arts and Architecture 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 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 theory
Ph.D. Ethnomusicology/Folklore, Indiana University; M. M.E. Music Education, Indiana University; B.M.E. Music Education, Xavier University of Louisiana