Fredara Mareva Hadley

Panel Moderator

FREDARA MAREVA HADLEY is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Oberlin Conservatory. She is an ethnomusicologist who specializes in researching, writing, and teaching about African American popular music. Committed to sharing knowledge about black music by any means possible, Fredara conducted research for the African Burial Ground Memorial in New York City, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Carnegie Hall.

She’s presented her research topics at universities around the country and at conferences both domestic and abroad. Her commentary is featured in projects including: The BBC documentary, Killing Me Softly: The Roberta Flack Story; PBS’ docuseries, Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music; BBC Four’s docuseries, Gregory Porter’s Popular Voices and; CNN’s podcast B-Sides.


Phil Cox

Director / Writer of BETTY THEY SAY I'M DIFFERENT

PHIL COX studied languages and literature before creating Native Voice Films in London in 1998 as a collective of independent filmmakers aiming to collaborate on innovative and cinematic documentary and reportage.   Phil has been awarded the Rory Peck Award for his work covering the conflict in Darfur and also a British Grierson Award and Royal Television Society Award. His recent feature documentaries have been WE ARE THE INDIANS which premiered in Sheffield Doc Fest and won BAFICI Buenos Aires FF award, THE BENGALI DETECTIVE which premiered at Sundance and Berlin, winning a GRIERSON AWARD and LOVE HOTEL which premiered at Toronto and won a Berlin Film festival award. BETTY – THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT his latest feature documentary premiered at Amsterdam IDFA in late 2017. Phil is currently working on a theater production entitled 40 DAYS OF KHARTOUM.

Betty – They Say I’m DifferentCredits:

  • A Native Voice Films & La Compaigne des Taxi Brousse Production
  • In association with ARTE France
  • Directed & Written by Phil Cox
  • Produced by Giovanna Stopponi, Laurent Mini, Damon Smith
  • Edited by Esteban Uyarra
  • Executive Producers Karim Samai & Catherine Bailey
  • Associate Producer Danielle Maggio


Greg Tate

Photo by Nisha Sondhe


Greg Tate

Greg Tate is a writer, musician, and cultural provocateur who lives on Harlem’s Sugar Hill and whose books include Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America (Duke University Press, 1992) and Everything But the Burden: What White People are Taking from Black Culture (Broadway Books, 2004). His most recent publication is Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader (Duke University Press, 2016). Tate has also led the Conducted Improv big band Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber since 1999, and is a proud member of Howard University’s Bison Nation. He has formally taught at the universities of Yale, Columbia, and Brown, and Williams College. His most recent Visiting Faculty appointments were at Princeton University, where he taught ‘The Loud Black and Proud Musicology of Amiri Baraka’, and New York University, where he debuted ‘A Brief History of Woke Black Music’.


Emily Lordi

Electric Ladies: The Losses and Legacies of Betty Davis and Janelle Monáe

While Betty Davis is repeatedly described as a “pioneer,” this paper asks what exactly she found when she got where she was going, and what kinds of inroads she did or didn’t make for later black women artists like Janelle Monáe. Although Monáe launched her career four decades after Davis’s prime, the two can seem like kindred spirits—both ambitious children of the working class who left midsized American cities (Pittsburgh and Kansas City) to cultivate fierce alter egos (Davis’s sexually aggressive diva, Monáe’s rebellious android) and to curate ingenious musical crews (Davis’s star-studded bands, Monáe’s Wondaland Arts Society); both also are linked to visionary male mentors (Miles Davis and Prince). Finally, and perhaps most obviously, Monáe’s recent celebration of black female queer sexuality can seem indebted to Davis’s daring odes to promiscuity, prostitution, and S&M. Still, to compare the two artists’ musical performances and professional strategies is to better apprehend Davis’s relatively anti-virtuosic vocal aesthetic and her refusal to court commercial success—both of which suggest she was ahead of not only her own time but also our own.


EMILY J. LORDI

Emily J. Lordi is associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of two books: Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature (Rutgers UP, 2013) and Donny Hathaway Live (Bloomsbury 33⅓ series, 2016). In addition to scholarly articles on topics ranging from literary modernism to Beyoncé, she has published essays on such sites as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Slate, The Root, and the Los Angeles Review of Books—the latest of which (for The New Yorker) is about Betty: They Say I’m Different. She is now writing a book on soul aesthetics.


Kwami Coleman

“Mademoiselle Mabry”: Betty’s Agency With and After Miles.

This paper considers Betty Davis’s impact on Miles Davis, to whom she was married in 1968-9, and her agency within the hypermasculine professional spaces and representational fields of the commercial music industry. I explore her relationship to Miles via two aesthetic and conceptual paradigms central to his work in 1968: electricity and abstraction. What might these aesthetic and conceptual paradigms mean with regards to Betty’s agency as a woman and artist? Are they meaningful ways to interpret the forthright black feminist aesthetics reverberating in her music and visual aesthetics? Did her relationship to Miles affect her agency in a negative or problematic way? These and other related questions will be presented and discussed.


Kwami Coleman

Kwami Coleman is a pianist, composer, producer, and an assistant professor of musicology at The Gallatin School of Individualized Study — New York University. He released an album of original recordings titled Local Music in 2017, and he is working on a monograph currently titled Change: The “New Thing” and Modern Jazz.


De Angela L. Duff

Black Female Rockers from Betty Davis to Joi

“To be invisible will be my claim to fame.” – Gladys Knight & The Pips

While Carrie Mae Weems’ “Slow Fade to Black” (2010) commands you to consider how the images of famous black female performers like Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, Lena Horne, and Josephine Baker are receding from cultural memory and prominence, the series also sparks a deeper question of why the images of black female rockers such as (and most notably) Betty Davis, Joyce Kennedy, and Joi are still sadly mostly unknown, uncredited, or ignored. We can not reduce their invisibility to just race. Because their images directly confront the relationship between gender and sexuality, their reclamation of power and freedom is undeniable, refuting stereotypes and, ultimately, rewriting music’s history and culture.


De Angela L. Duff, Symposium Organizer

De Angela L. Duff is a designer, photographer, web developer, DJ & podcaster. She is also the Co-Director of Integrated Digital Media (IDM) & Industry Associate Professor at NYU Tandon in Brooklyn. De Angela has spoken at the Prince from Minneapolis Symposium, Purple Reign Conference, EYEO, Black Portraiture[s] IV, III, II & II: Revisited, NYC’s Creative Tech Week and Raising The Bar, AIGA’s Social Studies and Massaging Media 2 Conferences, and HOW’s Annual Design Conference. Her work has been featured in publications such as HOW and Print magazines, and the books, Now Loading and www.animation: Animation Design for the World Wide Web. She currently, produces, co-hosts, and edits the Prince & Prince-related podcasts on Grown Folks Music’s podcast network. De Angela holds an MFA in Studio Art (Photography) from MiCA, a BFA in Graphic Design from Georgia State University and a BS in Textiles from Georgia Tech. Her research currently combines music, photography, and technology.