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dj lynnee denise

Migration/Music: *The Intellectual Beauty Series

Upcoming Events: November 6, 2013

‘Don’t Let me Be Misuderstood’: A Comparative Look at the Musical Lives of Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill.

Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill have more in common than is available to the eye. The tracing of their creative genius offers insight into the plight of artists who employ their art to comment publicly about social and political inequalities. Both women challenged oppressive expectations that burden women artists and black creatives. They also wrote lyrics expressly engaging their audiences in acts of political awareness and resistance.  Their stories narrate the necessity and risk of defying the dictates of the music industry and sometimes those of their audiences and fans.   

Simone and Hill sometimes presented seemingly erratic behavior on stage in their attempts to assert their artistic or personal values. Indeed, their personal demons were often on view as they took the world stage. In this performance-seminar, lynnée denise will explore Simone's role in and support of the civil rights movement and Lauryn Hill's rise and public decline. 

What are the different standards to which a woman artist may be held in the industry?  How may we consider Nina Simone’s protest of the Vietnam War by refusing to pay taxes?  Is that art? Aesthetics?  What do we make of Lauryn Hill’s imprisonment for her efforts to shape a music-fueled critique of structural and historical racial inequalities? You will leave this seminar with the music, the message and the madness that particularizes Simone’s and Hill’s cultural contribution to American music and American discourse.

dj lynnée denise returns

We welcome dj lynnée denise back to Spelman College to “scratch and mix” the text on migration, an unending story of movement toward and away from the fact and idea of home.  The word ‘migration’ would offer little room for interpretation or meaning if we humans did not harbor a fundamental sense of place as a structure of identity, belonging, stability, community, family, embrace and acceptance. 

dj lynnee denise

We invite our scholarly community to join us in a consideration of migration and movement as a fundamental truth and challenge of our histories as well as a fact of our contemporary moment—fluidities of place and occupation or abandonment inspired by desire, but more often as a response to devastations of war, poverty, fear, threat, and the dream of safety.  The story of these comings and goings demand investigation across disciplines.  We wonder how this focus on movement inspires or challenges our artists, scientists, philosophers and theologians, what forces are unleashed in the mass movements of the displaced and the seeking, and what tools we have to address or interpret.

In contemplating migration and movement, we naturally encounter the blues, the earliest music development emerging from the African American story of loss of home place and our musical response to love, loss, the work of memory and the contemplation of joy.   There are many investigations to be made into our diverse national and international stories of migration—that eternal leaving and arriving—beginning perhaps with the first migration and dispersal out of the African continent.  

dj lynnée denise will begin this dialogue with her fresh investigation of African American women in music in a blues reading that drops the needle anywhere between Mamie Smith and Alberta Hunter to Lauryn Hill and Nikki Minaj. 

The conversation, Migration/Music, continues on Oct.2, and Nov. 6, in the Museum of Fine Art. 

Let us know how you are entering the conversation on Migration. Tell us about it on our Facebook page.

For more information on lynnée denise, visit her at:

Past Events

  • Tuesday, Oct.2: From Raunchy to Ratchet: Black Women, the Music Industry and thePolitics of Hyper (In)Visibility
  • Saturday, Sept. 21: Candid discussion about Migration and Movement with dj lynnée denise
  • Friday, Sept. 20: Documentary viewing of “Standing in the Shadow of Motown” with dj lynnée denise

*The Honors Program Migration series, part of the Spelman College/Morehouse College
Honors Program Reading Series, is a member of The Intellectual Beauty Series which includes
Posing Beauty on view in the Museum on Fine Art (September 5-December 7); and the
Ida B. Wells-Barnett Distinguished Lecture Series