The Archives of African American Music and Culture will celebrate an important anniversary during Black History Month.
The online publication Black Grooves, the AAAMC’s monthly periodical featuring reviews of African-American popular and religious music, will celebrate its 10th anniversary during February.
Anna Polovick, senior and archival assistant for AAAMC, said the website provides the opportunity to celebrate the diversity within African-American music on both global and local scales.
“Black Grooves is a really important publication, because there are not that many review websites that focus on all genres of African American music,” Polovick said. “Black Grooves covers new albums that are ubiquitous in pop culture, like recent releases by Solange, ‘A Seat At the Table,’ and Childish Gambino’s ‘Awaken My Love!’ but also puts a strong emphasis on indie music, not as popular genres and local music.”
Entertainment is not the only focus of the music, and issues such as police brutality and the refugee crisis are among the many addressed by artists featured on the site. Polovick said the site allows for those voices trying to discuss these important issues a platform to do so.
The distinctive voice of Black Grooves comes from a variety of sources, including professors, students and scholars across the country.
As an ethnomusicology major, Polovick said she often gets asked what she wants to do as a career. The AAAMC has given her the opportunity to discover what her career aspirations are, work in the field and develop a better understanding of the importance of music preservation.
“My favorite part of working at the AAAMC for four years is that I’ve gotten to learn about a multitude of African-American genres and artists, and I’ve gotten to have a wide range of experiences,” Polovick said. “Some days I am accessioning music so we can have a record of each CD, 45, LP or cassette in our database. Other days I’m reading through old hip-hop magazines so we can summarize each issue and make them more readily available.”
Polovick said she’s been writing for Black Grooves for four years and the experience has given her the opportunity to hone her writing and web skills, which she said are particularly valuable in an increasingly digital work landscape.
“It’s wonderful to be able to tell future employers that I know how to upload items to a website, add pictures and hyperlinks and even work a little with HTML,” Polovick said. “I also contact publishers about featuring their artists’ works and follow up with them after we publish an article, which is a great insight into the music industry.”
Polovick said she got her job at AAAMC after taking a class with now-retired professor Portia Maultsby and has found value in the experience four years later.
“I’m so thankful that happened, and I’ve loved having the opportunity to study and learn so much about African-American music and culture while here at IU,” Polovick said. “I’m really going to miss it after I graduate this May.”
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