Ph. D., Musicology-Southern Regional Studies (with Art History minor), University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee; Dissertation, "I Belong to the Band: The Music of Reverend Gary Davis."
M. M., Classical Guitar Performance, University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati, Ohio.
B. M., Classical Guitar Performance, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro, Kentucky.
Areas of Expertise:
I specialize in traditional and popular music of the American South including blues, gospel, soul and early rock & roll. I also play guitar professionally and write and lecture on self-taught and folk art, notably African-American vernacular art of the Deep South.
Courses I Teach:
- History of Rock
- History of Jazz
- Music Theory I and II
- Reading and Writing about Music
I have also taught various undergraduate and graduate level courses at other institutions including: World Music, Western Art Music, American Popular Music, Filed Methods in Ethnomusicology, and guitar instruction.
I am currently prepping my dissertation, I Belong to the Band: The Music of Reverend Gary Davis, for publication.
1. "Reassessing Winterville," American Archaeology 15, no. 3 (Fall 2011): 26-31.
2. Various entries for The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Folk Art, the Mississippi Encyclopedia, and the Encyclopedia of American Music and Culture (all in press).
3. Liner notes for the reissue of the classic album, Reverend Robert Wilkins, Memphis Gospel Singer.
Winner of Graduate Document Award for best dissertation, University
of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee.
Performed at the Library of Congress and the John F. Kennedy Center
for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.
Winner of “Best International CD Release – Solo” for the album God’s
Tattoos, BlueStar Awards, Australia.
First place Arts & Entertainment winner in the Missouri Lifestyle
Journalism Awards (a.k.a., the Penney-Missouri Awards).
Recipient of the Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award in
Award for Community Service, 13th Annual Premier Player Awards,
National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Memphis Chapter.
Life Off Campus:
I am a voting Grammys member and serve on the Grammy Hall of Fame nominating committee for the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
William Lee Ellis and Nathaniel G. Lew, assistant professor and associate professor, respectively, of fine arts/music, both attended the joint meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the American Musicological Society, and the Society for Music Theory in New Orleans on Nov 1-4. Bill gave a paper entitled "I Can't Make the Journey by Myself: Blindness as a Transformative Trope in the Music of Reverend Gary Davis" and was courted by Scarecrow Press about book and series editor possibilities. Nat, in his role as Secretary of the North American British Music Studies Association, helped run that smaller society's business meeting and organized and conducted at their reception and musicale.