On Thursday (April 21) at 8 p.m. EST, Pop Conference 2022 will kick off its four-day online conference with an opening keynote panel in collaboration with Billboard and New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Billboard will also host and share the video after the conference.
Titled “The Way Back Home: How Musicians Navigate Race and Borders,” the panel will feature Grammy-winning acclaimed musicians Youssou N’Dour, Arooj Aftab, Lido Pimienta and will be moderated by NPR music critic Ann Powers. Each will explore how their respective music crosses borders of all kinds, and in turn, transforms those borders and allows audience members to rethink notions of home and homelands, as well as race and identity.
As one of the most highly celebrated African musicians of all time, N’Dour helped popularize mbalax music before achieving unprecedented international success in his collaborations with artists like Peter Gabriel and Neneh Cherry and releasing numerous border-crossing albums. Aftab, an acclaimed semi-classical, Hindustani, minimalist composer, songwriter and singer, was recently awarded the Grammy Award for best global music performance and is the first ever Pakistani artist to receive a Grammy. While Canadian-Colombian interdisciplinary artist, musician and curator Pimienta foregrounds Afro-Indigenous traditions and explores the wider politics of race, gender, motherhood, and identity through her work. In their own unique ways, each of this year’s panel participants has been a leader in reimagining the role and power of popular music as it circulates in a rapidly globalized world.
“One of the most powerful things about popular music has always been the way that it travels, bringing people together across far-flung places in solidarity and affirmation,” said Jason King, Chair of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. “This year’s Pop Conference is an amazing opportunity to deeply consider the work that pop music does to create those connections across borders and racial divides and to think more deeply about its relationship to place.”
As the longest running music writing and pop music studies conference of its kind, from April 21-24, Pop Conference 2022 will bring together the world’s leading pop scholars, journalists, writers and musicians for four days of virtual events exploring pop music’s role in shaping the way we think about borders, race and home. Other events include original concert performances by Jamila Woods and Aurelio Martinez, a special tribute panel to legendary music writer Robert Christgau and two closing keynote panels on Sunday (April 24) paying homage to the written and musical legacies of beloved writer/bandleader Greg Tate, who passed away in December 2021.
Pop Conference 2022 is free and open to the public with advance registration here.