Ann Power, NPR music critic, packs CPM for book talk

Ann Powers

Ann Powers. Photo by Lucent Vignette Photography.

The Center for Popular Music brought “Good Booty” to campus on Jan. 29.

Ann Powers, National Public Radio’s music critic and correspondent, lectured on her new book, “Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music,” to a standing room only crowd in the CPM’s reading room.  The book explores the idea that popular music shapes fundamental American beliefs on social issues, most notably sex and race.

The title, Good Booty, relates to the Little Richard classic “Tutti Frutti.” The original lyrics following the song’s title were actually “Good Booty” but were changed to “aw rooty” for radio play, Powers explained. “This is just one example of hidden eroticism in American popular music.”

Powers credits 19th century New Orleans as the place were American popular music was born, via the ballroom dancing halls and Creole song exchanges of the time. She also gives credence to gospel music as the true inspirer of rock ’n’ roll.

“It’s something that people don’t usually connect, Saturday night with Sunday morning,” Powers said. “The depth of rock ’n’ roll came from gospel songs, and the rock ’n’ roll band mimicked gospel music quartets. Even performance moves attributed to rock ’n’ roll – such as falling into the crowd – came from gospel singers.”

Greg Reish, the director for the Center for Popular Music and host of the WMOT program Lost Sounds, appreciates Powers’ unique ability to convey her ideas on contemporary music to all audiences.

“Powers has an unusual ability to communicate deep, critical, insightful and brilliant ideas in a way that remains accessible to students and the general public,” Reish said. “She writes and talks about music that we know and love, all of us, regardless of generation.”

Powers, a journalist who began her career at the San Francisco Weekly, became a music critic for The New York Time and the Los Angeles Times before joining National Public Radio. She’s authored several books on American popular music, including Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America; Tori Amos: Piece by Piece; and Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop.

Read Powers’ NPR blog “The Record” here.

GOOD BOOTY - Jacket Image

Book jacket. Author: Ann Powers

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