Tyron Cooper, assistant professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies, has been selected to be the director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture starting January 1, 2018. Cooper, who earned his master’s degree in jazz studies and his doctoral degree in ethnomusicology from IU, has previously served the archives as a research associate and graduate assistant. His research is in black gospel and black popular music, with an emphasis on live recording productions, religious belief and identity, and performance practice. He also directed the IU Soul Revue for several years.
Cooper hopes to expand on the strong legacy and interdisciplinary foundation laid by his predecessors, Melonee V. Burnim and Portia Maultsby. He will continue their work of connecting the archives to industry insiders and professionals who can contribute to the collections and further the research mission of the archives. Cooper says that as both a student and a research associate, he learned how to put together symposia and galvanize a diverse community to explore traditions in African-American music and culture.
“My experiences as a student, scholar, and performer of black music are organically linked,” Cooper says. “In my endeavors, I commonly pull from all that I have acquired in such contexts. I envision the future of the AAAMC as a regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized space where community, academy, and industry converge to explore, affirm, and disseminate the full gamut of African-American music and culture.” Cooper’s extensive experience and expertise in arts and culture stem from decades of recordings and live performances as a music director, guitarist, vocalist, composer, and an arranger for national secular and religious artists. Since 2012, he has been nominated for six Emmy awards and has won three. His most recent Emmy was for talent and composition for the film Attucks: The School That Opened a City, which was featured in the 2016 Heartland Film Festival.
“Professor Cooper’s passion for music is fully evident in everything he undertakes,” says Larry Singell, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “He is a dynamic combination of scholar and working musician. His students hold him in the highest regard as a teacher and beloved musical mentor for his service as founding director of IU's Camp SOUL and director of the IU Soul Revue. The College is delighted and grateful that he has agreed to bring his wide-ranging talents, deep knowledge, and musical devotion to this new role.”