Your guide to Arts & Culture in the Central Rappahannock River Region

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FEB 14
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UMW James Farmer Multicultural Center – 2019 Black History Month Celebration

How did legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday come by her distinctive style and sound? From the Catholic convent in Baltimore where she was sent to live as a child, to the echoes of black Southern church sounds in the blues she first heard in brothels, to the secular riffs on ancestral faith in the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, to the mostly-Jewish songwriting of Tin Pan Alley, religion mattered for Billie Holiday’s singing. Tracy Fessenden, author of Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature, brings unexpected materials and archival voices to bear on the production—both the exquisite craft and the indelible persona—of Billie Holiday.

Speaker: Tracy Fessenden

Tracy Fessenden is the Steve and Margaret Forster Professor and the Director of the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. She teaches and writes about religion at the intersection of politics, spiritual life, and artistic expression, with special attention to women’s lives. Her books include Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature (Princeton, 2007), a finalist for awards from the American Academy of Religion and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and, with Linell Cady, Religion, the Secular, and the Politics of Sexual Difference (Columbia, 2013).