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Sat, May 04

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Session 4 (Units 6-7): Losing Appetites for The Wrong Food and the Making of Global Tastemakers

Have you ever experienced food that makes you wanna sing? This expression is an aesthetic value at the core of African-American gastromusicology (music & foodways). This course comprises live & recorded courses that cover 8 units of critical gastromusicology. Manual included. (Details below)

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Session 4 (Units 6-7): Losing Appetites for The Wrong Food and the Making of Global Tastemakers
Session 4 (Units 6-7): Losing Appetites for The Wrong Food and the Making of Global Tastemakers

Time & Location

May 04, 2024, 3:00 PM – 3:05 PM

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About the Event

Unit 6: “I Don’t Want No Peanut Butter and Jelly”: Indulgence Management and the Loss of Appetite for the “Wrong Food”

Gospel musicians have recorded several food-related songs about Southern and “soul” foods, such as Tye Tribbett’s live performances of “There Will Be Chicken After Church” and Here II Praise’s “Chicken Song” (1998). Through Tribbett, Here II Praise, and others' performances about church and food consumption, we find illustrations of how traditional food metaphors in gospel repertoire symbolize the formation of the Christian community. However, much of the food that they sing about has been deemed poison, the inflaming food that keeps the gospel music industry rotund and without strong immunity. in The Truthettes’ gospel performance of “Peanut Butter and Jelly” on the Take it the Lord in Prayer, which remained on the Top Spiritual Albums chart for 81 weeks, I explore how this humble, portable food metaphor is another aspect of African American Christian community building, sustenance, and devoutness. The Truthettes perform spiritual transformation using the meanings generated by a food metaphor—a symbol from which a Christian believer may fast or, more specifically, involuntarily lose their appetite, demonstrating belonging and entry into African American church families.

In this chapter, I engage The Truthettes' “Peanut Butter and Jelly” recording as a performance of accepting Christian salvation, which is manifested through satisfied spiritual hunger. This hunger is signified by their loss of taste or appetite for what they describe as the “wrong food”, food that does not satisfy the soul or remedy one’s spiritual condition. While food studies scholars conventionally draw from various texts such as cookbooks and interviews, I draw from gastromusicological discourses about food circulated in African American music repertoire, narratives, and visual representations with special attention to gospel performance. I will provide some background about male and transwoman use of the peanut and jelly as a metaphor for sexual and gender consumption in African American popular music during the twentieth century. Then I will examine a young cisgender woman’s gospel performance that redefines the peanut butter and jelly metaphor in a manner that disrupts the sexual connotations and replaces it with an illustration of spiritual transformation.

Unit 7: “Food that Makes You Want to Sing”: Touring Musicians Cooking as Global Tastemakers

Beginning their career during Jim Crow an era of racial apartheid in the US, when Black touring musicians were unable to purchase homes or eat where they pleased, Ms. Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight performed being “High on the Hog”, that is, being well off, living comfortably or extravagantly due to great wealth or financial security, much like Oprah Winfrey in the introduction. Nonetheless, their ascent is not without a struggle. Like Oprah, Knight and Labelle’s attainment of their personal promised lands is the manifestation of folklore consistent with and generated in twentieth century music repertoire from the South.

Across Black music genres, artists have linked their musical and gustatory prowess to transport that fanbase on a multi-sensory journey. As such these touring tastemakers dwell in what culinary writer Toni Tipton-Martin calls “The Jemima Code” legacy of cooking by instinct, embodying culinary wisdom and cultural authority so much so that they were stereotyped to be musical sounding bodies, as evinced by the lullabies that inspired and the products generated from the troubling Aunt Jemima stereotype.

Seasoning: A Course in Gastromusicology

Shortly after the term “soul food” was popularized on the heels of the “soul music” genre, culinary anthropologist and Sun Ra touring musician Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor published the cookbook-memoir Vibration Cooking or The Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl (1970). In the tradition of Zora Neale Hurston’s ethnographic research and Ms. Edna Lewis’ culinary culture-bearing, Vibration Cooking challenged the primacy of the “soul food” concept by centring on food as a source of pride, a site of sensuality, an art of multisensory storytelling, a validation of Black womanhood and Black consciousness-raising. Deeply rooted in her musical experiences, Smart-Grosvenor wrote, “When I cook, I never measure or weigh anything. I cook by vibration.” Through her cultural anthropological writing, she pinned an intersection of music/sound, sensuality, and culinary perception that has yet to be explored through the lens of music or sound studies.

Probing that constellation of soulful, musical, sensual, and culinary perception, the textbook Seasoning: A Course in Gastromusicology is a ground-breaking critical investigation into the interconnectedness of African American embodiment, oral transmission, cultural production, wealth extraction, and consumption in the global marketplace as emblematic of what I coin as gastromusicophysics or multisensory “taste.”  Highly competent culture-bearers in the marketplace that I call “ultrasonic tastemakers” resonate with and register their talent, tapping into high vibrations, and frequencies of creative expressions, decision making and influencing what is, will be, and their products endure as en vogue, succulent, and mellifluous.

Units Covered

Unit 1 -- Basic Gastromusicology Research Methods   

Unit 2 -- GOODNESS: An Introduction to Critical Gastromusicology    

Unit 3 -- The Vagina Dentata: The Unutterable Confluence of Diet, Discordance, and Black Sexual Purity in Gospel Music.   

Unit 4 -- On Soundness, Despite Seasoning: Tortured Lullabies as Work Songs 

Unit 5 -- The Sound of Wise Women: The Poetics of Smoky Sizzling Inventiveness and Preservation in Kitchen Beauty Salons  

Unit 6 -- “I Don’t Want No Peanut Butter and Jelly”: Indulgence Management and the Loss of Appetite for the “Wrong Food”       

Unit 7 --  Global Tastemakers: Touring Musicians Cooking Food that Makes You Want to Sing  

Unit 8 -- COMMUNION: “Bad Blood” Stigmata and Remembrance

Session Dates:

*All Sessions are First Saturdays from 10 am - Noon 

**Sesssion 1: Units 1 and 2 **

3 Feb, 2024 

Session 2: Units 3 and 4 

2 March, 2024

Session 3:  Units 4 and 5

6 April

Session4: Units 6 and 7 

4 May 

Session 5:  Unit 8 

1 June 

Fee Schedule 

Session 1 (Units 1-2)** $150 Mandatory Session (Live and Recorded)

All Sessions Package: $772.10

Individual Sessions: $108.88

Tickets

  • Session 4 (Units 6-7)

    $108.88
    +$2.72 service fee
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