Dr. Johari Jabir
University of Illinois – Chicago
Associate Professor, African American Studies
My teaching and scholarship is influenced by my work as a musical artist. I enjoy using music as an epistemological frame in all of my courses including “Introduction to African American Studies” (AAST100), “African American Religious Traditions” (AAST120), “African American History since 1877” (AAST248), and “Black Music History & Culture” (AAST262). My first book, One More Valiant Soldier: The Cosmic Vision of Freedom in The First South Carolina Volunteers explores themes of religion, music, and masculinity at work in America’s first Black regiment of the Civil War. I am also studying the Black Barbershop Quartet singing phenomenon at the turn of the century; gospel blues tradition of the early and mid 20th century; the role of music and cosmology in the work of James Baldwin; and the Civil Rights protest songs of Nina Simone.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, I was educated in the public school system. I began to study music at a very young age, and was steeped in the St. Louis school of gospel blues led by Willie Mae Ford Smith and Rev. Cleophus Robinson. Continuing my study of music received my B/A in music from Fontbonne College (now Fontbonne University). After an extensive professional career in church music and musical theatre, I attended the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. where I received an MDiv. During my PhD work at the University of California Santa Barbara, I was able to formulate the intellectual aspect of my work as a creative artist. My teaching, scholarship, and musical performances are all part of an organic project of music, history, teaching, and learning about the Black diasporic experience.