Givin' Them Somethin' They Can Feel: An Interrogation and Celebration of Black Soul

Event information
Venue:Green Library 220, FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus

Please scroll to the bottom to access the program and the guest biographies.



Green Library 220, FIU Modesto Maidique Campus

1:30-1:45 PM: A Soul Town Welcome and Introduction

2-5 PM: Soul Session I

• Marsha Music “Detroit’s Cultural Legacy,” a Skype Presentation and Q&A (2-3 PM)
hosted by Source Booksellers, Detroit, Michigan
• Presentation by Professor Randal Jelks and Professor Nick Salvatore, moderated by Dr. Hilary Jones followed by Q&A (3-5 PM)

Graham Center 324 (Panther Suite), FIU Modesto Maidique Campus

5-6 PM: Soul Food

6-8 PM: Soul Session II
• A Soul Teach-In with Ms. Betty Wright, An Interactive Collaboration on the History of Soul Music and Its Influences Today

Guest Biographies

Marsha Music, The Detroist

Born Marsha Battle Philpot, Marsha Music is a self-described “primordial Detroiter”. The daughter of legendary pre-Motown record producer, the late Joe Von Battle, and west side Detroit beauty and music lover, the late Shirley Battle, Marsha Music became an activist in her early teens in the social tumult of the late sixties , and was founding member of the iconic League of Revolutionary Black Workers. She was later a labor union president - the first Black, first woman and youngest in her local union's history. Through it all, she has been a writer - and she has written acclaimed essays, poems and narratives about the city’s music, and its past and future. She is a self-educated scholar, a noted speaker and presenter, and has contributed to important anthologies, narratives, films, oral histories, and an HBO documentary. Ms. Music was awarded a 2012 Kresge Literary Arts Fellowship, as well as a 2015 Knight Arts Challenge award; she was a 2015 Ideas City Detroit Fellow, and has received accolades for her One Woman Show, Marsha Music - Live On Hastings Street! In 2015 she was commissioned to create a poem about Detroit for the acclaimed Symphony in D, which she read in performances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 2017 she was a narrator in the documentary film 12th and Clairmount. A Detroit cultural luminary, Marsha was the opening speaker for the July, 2016 opening of the Detroit '67 project at the Detroit Historical Museum, and was commissioned to create a poem for the Belle Isle Conservancy. She plans a book and a documentary film about her father's record shop, with veteran Detroit film-maker Juanita Anderson, as well as a memoir of her own amazing life.

Dr. Randal Jelks

Randal Maurice Jelks is an awarding winning Professor of American Studies and African and African American Studies at the University of Kansas. Professor Jelks also holds courtesy appointments in History, Religious Studies, and is the co-Editor of the journal American Studies. In addition he is an ordained Presbyterian clergy (PCUSA). Jelks is a graduate of the University of Michigan (BA in History), McCormick Theological Seminary (Masters of Divinity) and Michigan State University (Ph.D. in Comparative Black Histories) having studied under Distinguished Professor Darlene Clark Hine. His research interests are in the areas of American Religious histories, African Diaspora Religions, and Religions and American Social Movements. He is the author of the two award winning books African Americans in the Furniture City: The Struggle for Civil Rights Struggle in Grand Rapids (The University of Illinois Press, 2006), which won the 2006 State History Award, University and Commercial Press, Historical Society of Michigan and Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography (University of North Carolina Press 2012), winner of the 2013 Lillian Smith Book Award and the 2013 Literary Award, Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Jelks has held a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at Masaryk University, Brno Czech Republic (2015), has been a Visiting Lecturer at University of Regensburg (2014), Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany and has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Ghana, Institute for African Studies (2001 and 2007). He is currently writing two new books “I am free to be what I want to be”: Faith and Struggle in the Lives of Four African Americans and My Friends Call Me Benny: The Benjamin Mays Story for Young Readers, as well as serving as an executive producer for a two-part biographical documentary I, Too, Sing America: Langston Hughes Unfurled in conjunction with the Dream Documentary Collective and the Lawrence Arts Center.

Nick Salvatore

Nick Salvatore is the Maurice and Hinda Neufeld Founders Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He did his graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley and came to Cornell in 1981. He is the author of Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist (1982), which received the Bancroft Prize in History and the John H. Dunning Prize, and We All Got History: The Memory Books of Amos Webber (1996), which received the New England History Association's Outstanding Book Prize. His third biography, Singing in a Strange Land: C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America (2005) examines the life of one of the most influential preachers of his generation in the Afro-Baptist tradition. He teaches course in nineteenth- and twentieth century American history.

Ms. Betty Wright

Singer Betty Wright proved to be a consistently strong presence on the Miami music scene, primarily in the '70s and '80s, although she continued to record through the 2010s. Born on December 21, 1953, in Miami, Florida, Wright began her singing career early on as a member of her family's gospel group, the Echoes of Joy. By the age of 13, she had begun appearing on other artists' recordings as a backup singer and, shortly thereafter, began her solo career. In 1968, she scored a a Top 40 with "Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do" and released her debut album, My First Time Around. It would be several years, however, before Wright would enjoy her next substantial hit; "Clean Up Woman," notable for its prominent guitar riff and Wright's swaggering lead vocal, peaked at number two on the R&B and number six on the pop charts in 1972. Two years later, Wright received a Grammy Award for the song "Where Is the Love?" (not to be confused with the renowned Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway tune of the same name). Wright steadily issued albums throughout the decade, including such standout titles as 1975's Danger High Voltage (which spawned three R&B hits) and 1978's Betty Wright Live. A 1981 collaboration with Stevie Wonder, "What Are You Gonna Do With It?," proved to be Wright's last significant solo hit. She continued issuing albums, in addition to trying her hand as a television talk show hostess and contributing songwriting, backing vocals, vocal production, and engineering work to albums by dozens of high-profile artists, including Erykah Badu, Regina Belle, David Byrne, Jennifer Lopez, Joss Stone, Angie Stone, and Lil Wayne. She also worked on Diddy's Press Play and appeared as a vocal coach on the Bad Boy label head's Making the Band series. In 2011, she collaborated with the Roots on Betty Wright: The Movie, her first solo album in a decade.