Professor from Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music nominated for Grammy

A professor from Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music was nominated for a Grammy on Thursday.

Greg Barz, associate professor of ethnomusicology at Blair, is nominated in the Best Traditional World Music Album category for his album Singing for Life: Songs of Hope, Healing, and HIV/AIDS in Uganda.

“I am thrilled for this recognition for what was already one of the most meaningful projects of my career,” Barz said. “Music is a key weapon in the fight against AIDS in Africa, and the music on Songs for Life is also just really great African music.”

Singing for Life: Songs of Hope, Healing, and HIV/AIDS in Uganda, released in February by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, features uplifting music from Uganda compiled by Barz. The CD shares the Singing for Life title with a 2006 book he wrote about the role music and storytelling is playing in efforts to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

“Greg Barz’s Singing for Life CD is a wonderful example of scholarship in the service of humanity,” said Mark Wait, the Martha Rivers Ingram Dean’s Chair at Blair. “The Blair School of Music is proud of Greg’s many accomplishments, and I am thrilled for him to receive this prestigious recognition.”

Barz has been studying the role of the arts in combating HIV/AIDS in Africa since 1999. HIV infection rates have fallen from 30 percent to 5 percent in Uganda over the past decade, and Barz argues that efforts to convey good information by storytellers, dancers, musicians and other artists have played a prominent role in that success.

The emerging field of medical ethnomusicology, now recognized by the Society of Ethnomusicology, was born of the work of Barz and others. Medical ethnomusicology seeks to fight disease by combining the efforts of doctors and other healthcare workers with anthropologists, music specialists and public health policy makers.

“I’m comfortable now being labeled an activist as well as an ethnomusicologist,” Barz said. “I think this CD represents an activist stance. I’m trying to make a point and move people and raise money.”

Proceeds from Singing for Life: Songs of Hope, Healing, and HIV/AIDS in Uganda go to two agencies in Uganda, Meeting Point and the Integrated Development and AIDS Concern (IDAAC).

Grammy nominees in 110 categories were released by The Recording Academy in Los Angeles. Winners will be announced on Feb. 10.

Media Contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

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