Pre-Concert: Critical Jukebox: Gullah Music

Windows Pre-Concert Talk:

Critical Jukebox: Gullah Music


Fri, Nov 3, 2023 | 6:30pm


Ranky Tanky pre-concert panelists

The Music Center at Strathmore

Education Room 402 


Seating will be open for registrants from 6-6:20pm. At 6:20pm unclaimed seats will be released to a standby line.


Access to this event is free with your ticket to Ranky Tanky with Ms. Lisa Fischer. RSVP required.

Know Before You Go

Plan Your Visit

Ranky Tanky’s jazz-influenced arrangements of traditional music celebrates and carries forward a rich tradition of Gullah music and culture, which originated among descendants of enslaved Africans in the Lowcountry region of the Southeastern US. Join historian Melissa Cooper and ethnomusicologist Douglas D. Peach to explore the rich, complex history of Gullah identity through music. The collection and interpretation of Gullah music – most of it done by people outside these communities – raises important questions about how musical traditions are made. This interactive discussion about Gullah people, their music, and these histories will place the evening’s performance in a larger context, and enhance your experience of Ranky Tanky and Ms. Fischer’s contribution to the genre.

 This event is part of Strathmore’s Windows series of performances and accompanying programs. Learn more

Meet the Panelists

Melissa L. Cooper, Phd


Dr. Melissa L. Cooper

Dr. Cooper is a writer, historian and professor. She is the author of the groundbreaking historical study, Making Gullah: A History of Sapelo Islanders, Race, and the American Imagination (2017). Making Gullah captured the attention of general reading audiences, students and scholars. Cooper’s book was discussed and featured in a variety of media ranging from The New Yorker, Atlanta Journal Constitution and Upscale Magazine to podcasts and radio shows. Cooper is also the author of “Selling Voodoo In Migration Metropolises” in the edited collection Race and Retail (2015), and Instructor's Resource ManualFreedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, with Documents (2012).  


Dr. Cooper’s teaching experience spans more than two decades. She is currently Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark, and has been a member of the faculty at the University of South Carolina. Her long teaching career includes teaching diverse populations of learners in New Jersey public high schools. As a result, Dr. Cooper was featured in the Peabody Award winning documentary “Minding the Gap: Why Good Schools are Failing Black Students” produced by Nancy Solomon, Spencer Fellow, in 2008. Dr. Cooper won an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation in 2019. She was also a 2021 Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.  

Douglas D. Peach


Douglas D. Peach

Douglas D. Peach (Doug) is a Folklife Specialist at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Trained as an ethnomusicologist, Peach most recently served as the Director of Folklife and Community Engagement at Sandy Spring Museum, leading the Regional Folklife Center for Montgomery County, MD, between 2020-2023. From 2014-2015, Peach worked as the South Carolina Folklife and Traditional Arts Program Director, at McKissick Museum (University of South Carolina) and the South Carolina Arts Commission. Peach has conducted ethnographic research in collaboration with Gullah Geechee communities in coastal South Carolina since 2012. He is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University.