Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Natalie King

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Ogletree

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Martin Norgaard


This exploratory case study examined the lived experiences of Black women composers. The main research question undergirding this research sought to understand how Black women composers describe their identities of race and gender within their careers. It also aimed to understand how Black women composers navigate elements of knowledge, opportunity, and visibility in a profession where they have been traditionally marginalized. Purposive sampling was used to invite ten Black women composers who are active in their careers and have catalogued works that are published and performed. Utilizing a conceptual framework that encompasses Black Feminist Thought (Collins, 2009) and Counterspaces (Case & Hunter, 2012), the case study centered the experiences of Black women composers in a way that will contribute to music and music education. Three themes surfaced in the findings from this research: 1) adversity played a major role in building Black women composer’s resilience 2) they identified music as being a vessel for their opportunity and visibility in the field, and 3) self-awareness was essential to realizing their identities as Black women composers.


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