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Thursday January 20th

This is Ann Powers: NPR critic, UNC lecturer

<p>Courtesy of Ann Powers</p>
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Courtesy of Ann Powers

Powers said she enjoys talking to younger generations about music, which is what she’ll be doing today as part of the Carolina Symposia in Music and Culture as she gives a lecture entitled “Blurred Lines: Pop, Technology, and the ‘Soft Self’ in 21st-century America.”

Megan Ross, member of the symposia committee and musicology graduate student at UNC, said the Carolina Symposia in Music and Culture is a graduate-run committee that selects scholars to lecture throughout the year.

“We try and take these individuals from different geographies, institutions and areas of interest,” Ross said.

“Ann has an interesting point of view as a pop music critic, so she’s really able to bring to the UNC department an interesting perspective that also overlaps with student and faculty interest of the coursework and projects happening in our program.”

A Seattle native, Powers started her music journalism career writing for an alternative weekly paper when she was in high school and has written about music ever since.

“When I was a kid, I loved music and I loved writing — pretty much in equal amounts,” she said.

Powers said she didn’t have the talent nor the discipline to pursue music as a career, but enjoyed writing. So she fused these two interests.

“I wanted to figure out why I liked music so much and why others did too,” Powers said.

Powers said her experiences living in various regions of the country have really helped her understand music at a deeper level than if she had stayed in one place.

Powers studied and worked in San Francisco and then followed her career to New York, Seattle and Los Angeles. When her husband accepted a teaching job at the University of Alabama, they moved to Tuscaloosa, where she works for NPR Music.

Christa Gala, adjunct professor in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said young journalists could benefit from the lecture.

“It’s always a good idea and a benefit to hear from someone who works for a well-respected organization like NPR,” she said.

Gala hopes that Powers’ diverse experiences will appeal to a variety of students.

“It’s great for all journalism students that go here, but also women because she’s a woman who’s succeeding in the field and the majority of students at the J-School are women,” Gala said.

Powers has never visited Chapel Hill before, but she said she is excited to see UNC’s renowned Southern Folklore archives and explore the local music scene.

“I really like to come speak to college students because they’re the most engaged when thinking about how music relates to culture,” Powers said.

“I love connecting with college-age music lovers because they’re the most powerful thinkers on the subject.”


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