Kay Kaufman Shelemay

Kay Kaufman Shelemay
Gordon Watts Professor of Music Harvard University

Kay ShelemayKay Kaufman Shelemay is the G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Before moving to Harvard in 1992, she taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Wesleyan University.

Shelemay has published ten books and editions within and beyond the boundaries of Jewish Studies, as well as many articles, reviews, recordings, and a museum catalogue. One of her recent books is Creating the Ethiopian Diaspora, a special double volume of the journal Diaspora (2006, with Steven Kaplan), and a textbook, Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World (3rd ed., 2015). Her book Music, Ritual and Falasha History won the Prize of the International Musicological Society, the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture Post-Doctoral Publication Award, while her article “The Power of Silent Voices” won the Jaap Kunst Prize for the best article of the year from the Society for Ethnomusicology.

A past-president of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Shelemay has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She has been awarded fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Stanford Humanities Center. She held the Chair of Modern Culture at the John W. Kluge Center of the U.S. Library of Congress during 2007-2008 and was a national Phi Beta Kappa/Frank M. Updike Memorial Scholar during 2010-2011. At Harvard University, Shelemay has been named a Walter Channing Cabot Fellow and was awarded the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, and the Everett Mendelsohn Graduate Mentoring Prize.


Selected Publications

Music, Ritual, and Falasha History ([1986]1989)

A Song of Longing. An Ethiopian Journey (1991)

Let Jasmine Rain Down. Song and Remembrance Among Syrian Jews (1998)

Studies in Jewish Musical Traditions. Insights from the Harvard Collection of Judaica Sound Recordings (2001)

“Leonard Bernstein’s Jewish Boston,” In Journal of the Society for American Music (2009, with Carol Oja)

“The Power of Silent Voices: Women in the Syrian Musical Tradition,” in Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia (2009)