First-Year Ph.D. Student Profiles

By Kathleen Noss

The first year Ph.D. students in the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles, are an eclectic bunch, but this is simply the (delightful) norm within ethnomusicological circles. Having come to UCLA from different backgrounds and places, we five students have spent our time together observing, helping, and challenging each other as we learn new skills, focus our interests, and determine where to go next.

Birgitta Johnson holds a B.A. in music from Agnes Scott College and an M.A. in ethnomusicology from UCLA. Her areas of interest are African American music, Afro-Caribbean religious and folk musics, and the African diaspora. Her current research focuses on Gospel music and music ministries in metropolitan Los Angeles churches. Birgitta’s performance endeavors include piano, violin, and Afro-Cuban percussion. She also serves as tenorette in Faithful Central Bible Church's Voices of Faith and Mass Choir.

Ann Lucas received a B.M. from Kansas State University and M.A. in ethnomusicology from UCLA. Her interests include musics of the Middle East and issues related to modernity and nationalism. She specializes in music of the Persian-speaking Near East and currently is studying the politics of popular music in Iran.

Nakisha Nesmith holds a B.A. in music from Spelman College and an M.A. in ethnomusicology from UCLA. Her primary research interests include Afro-Brazilian folk arts traditions and Brazilian hip-hop. Her future goal is to develop dance-art programs as a way to promote music education and music performance in local communities.

Kathleen Noss received a B.A. in English and a B.M. in ethnomusicology from Lawrence University and Conservatory of Music, and an M.A. in ethnomusicology from UCLA. Her research interests include music and dance from Africa and the African diaspora, and music’s efficacy in promoting social change. She currently is examining uses of African music by musicians and organizations in and out of Africa to address issues such as HIV/AIDS, children’s rights, and ethnic violence.

Angela Rodel received a B.A. from Yale as well as an M.A. in linguistics and an M.A. in ethnomusicology from UCLA. Her research and performance interests include punk rock and Balkan folk music, particularly Bulgarian women’s choral music. Additional areas of interest include globalization and aesthetics of music.

This is our class. While unlikely to meet up in the “field,” we will certainly remember our common grounding at UCLA and hopefully continue to engage and challenge each other through our future work in academic halls and communities around the world.