In the early 1930s, Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas recorded some of the most legendary masterpieces of prewar American music, and yet there is virtually no available information about them. Recordings of their music are even rarer. But the influence of their lyrics and their sound has managed to linger in Blues ever since. Writer and Yale professor Daphne Brooks has been researching the duo, the ways in which music history managed to overlook them, and what that says about how Black women’s voices are heard — and not heard — in the United States. On October 23, Brooks will talk about that work in a lecture titled “If You Should Lose Me: The Archive, the Critic, the Record Shop, and the Blues Woman” at UC Berkeley as part of a series of talks called “The Black Room: Revisiting ‘Blackness’ in the Global 21st Century” organized by a cohort of Cal professors. Brooks is known mostly for her sharp writing on race, performance, and the intersection of those two things. She’s currently writing a book entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound Modernity
, forthcoming from Harvard University Press. For more “Black Room” events, email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the mailing list.