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Graduate Program in Communication & Culture

Faculty Profiles

Rob Bowman

Media & Culture

University   York University
E-Mail Address
Phone Number   (416) 736-2100, ext. 77132
Office Location   Accolade East, 371G
Office Hours   TBA


B.A. (York); M.F.A. (York); Ph.D. (Memphis State)


Rob Bowman is a Professor in Ethnomusicology. Dr. Bowman currently serves as Director of York University's Graduate Program in Ethnomusicology & Musicology. He pioneered popular music studies at York University. He lectures, publishes and broadcasts in many areas of popular music, from country, R & B and gospel to reggae, rap and funk. He has written liner notes for dozens of recordings and regularly authors, produces and advises on major documentary and CD reissue projects for record companies in Europe and North America. His many broadcast credits include a five-part radio series on the history of Canadian popular music and frequent guest spots on CBC Radio's Definitely Not the Opera.

Rob Bowman's work as an interpreter and documentarian of historical recordings of popular music has been recognized internationally. A five-time Grammy Award nominee, he won a Grammy in 1996 for Best Album Notes for his 47,000 word monograph accompanying the 10-CD boxed set of The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975, which he co-produced. His nominations included Best Album Notes for The Malaco Records Story: The Last Soul Company and The Complete Stax Singles, Vol. 1 1959-1968, and Best Historical Reissue for The Otis Redding Story. He received his fifth Grammy nomination in January 2002 for Best Album Notes for the 4 CD box set The Stax Story, which he also co-produced.

Parallel to his career as a teacher, writer, critic and broadcaster, Rob Bowman continues to perform professionally. His instruments - voice, euphonium, viola da gamba - reflect his eclectic musical interests: he is equally at home performing rock, jazz, rhythm and blues, and baroque music.

Research Interests

Popular music studies; history of popular music; writer, broadcaster, and performer in many musical genres.

Selected Publications

Head Arrangement and Improvisation in King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, Graz, Austria: Jazzforschung [forthcoming].

Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records, New York: Prentice-Hall, 1997.

"Soul" and "Rockabilly" in Memphis Music, D. Evans ed. Chattanooga: University of Tennessee Press [at press].

"Meaning in Performance" in A. Moore, Innovative Approaches to Musicological Analysis of Popular Music, Cambridge University Press [at press].

"The Story of P-Funk" in The Best of George Clinton: Masters of Funk, New York: JPMC Books, 1998.

"A Conversation with B.B. King" in B.B. King Companion, Kostelanetz, ed. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997.

"The Rattling of the Drums: Political Expression in World Music" in Sounding Off: Music as Subversion, Resistance, Revolution, Ron Sakolsky and Fred Weihan Ho, eds. Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1996.

"Parliament/Funkadelic: Entropy as a Deviant Career Tool and Ideological Signifier", Not a Kid Anymore: Canadian Youth, Crime and Subcultures, G. O'Bireck, ed. Toronto: Nelson Books, 1996.

"Funny How Time Slips Away (The Peacock Soul Years)" Duke/Peacock Records, G. Gart and R. C.Ames, Milford N.H.: Big Nickel Publications, 1990.



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Harold [Innis] taught us how to use the bias of culture and communication as an instrument of research. By directing attention to the bias, or distorting power of the dominant imagery and technology of any culture, he showed us how to understand cultures.
~ Marshall McLuhan