On Boundary Work and Professional Audition: Reconciling Production Values in Multivalent Recording Spaces

Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, Cornell University

New Orleans 2019: Conversing

My project integrates live musical performance with a presentation of my dissertation research regarding the politics of community studios- a term I use for recording studios that exist to provide underserved communities and new recording artists with access to free and low cost professional music recording services. In the talk I will explore how the constraints of working in a multivalent community space push the sound engineers and artists who comprise each of the two communities I surveyed to shift between constructing such spaces as authentic in relation to tidy and often mutually exclusive notions of professional studios or community organizing spaces. As I will illustrate, these different understandings of the space are significant in part because they enable and often require specific ways of being and communicating in regards to both the music and the social order that is produced therein. And because these studios are typically conceived as interventions for a variety of social problems tied to inequity, my talk will engage with issues of race, gender, and class in relation to recording histories and futures. I will punctuate different points of my talk with performances of my own original songs to underscore the issues I am engaging.