Marti Newland’s commitments manifest in her encounters with program building, fundraising, curriculum enrichment, and scholarship. She was most recently a Lecturer in Music at Columbia, where she also earned the Ph.D. A full CV is available by request.

Program Building

Newland values strong interdisciplinary relationships on campuses and beyond. Below are selected encounters.

On the 150th anniversary of his birth, she co-founded the Harry T. Burleigh Society with Lynne Foote. The Society is a non-profit organization that that advances Burleigh studies through scholarship and performance. African American baritone and composer H. T. Burleigh (1866-1949) is the leader of publishing and professionalizing the solo concert spiritual. The Society fosters activity between scholars, artists and institutions conducting work about African American art music.

Throughout her entire graduate school career, Newland worked with the Dean of Studies Office at Barnard College were she mentored underrepresented female students through the graduate school application process in the pursuit of an academic career through the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program. Newland expanded the reach of Barnard’s program by co-founding, with Dr. Monica Huerta, the Barnard-Columbia New York City Regional Mellon Mays Writing Retreats. The retreats were so successful that MMUF programs at Brown and Duke have used them as a model to start their own.

Gaining the support of departments, centers and institutes across Columbia University, Newland collaborated with the Music Performance Program and the Center for the Core Curriculum to produce Concert Spirituals and the Black Soprano (2015). She led the Department of Music, the Institute for Research in African American Studies, the Center for Ethnomusicology, and the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life in support of the event.

Serving as the Columbia Institute for Research in African American Studies alumni representative on the conference planning committee, Newland helped facilitate the conference “Restaging the Harlem Renaissance”: New Views on the Performing Arts in Black Manhattan, and subsequently co-edited a special edition of the American Music Review with Dr. David Gutkin, based on the conference proceedings.


Newland understands an institution’s funding as directly correlated with the strength of its relationships among those with shared vision.

As a liaison to alumni of Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), Newland fundraised over $100,000 for GSAS  while she was a graduate student.

In reciprocity for her fieldwork, Newland fundraised for the Fisk University Music Department, raising funds to support music majors.

Curriculum Enrichment

Newland approaches curriculum as a potent communication between an institution and its participants, with potential to offer lifelong protection and inspire lifelong curiosity.

The Columbia University Center for the Core Curriculum awarded her the 2011 Meyerson Award for excellence in teaching Music Humanities. She then held the position as Core Lecturer for Music Humanities at Columbia, which was offered on the basis of the strength of her teaching record, immediately after completing the Ph.D. She has designed courses including Topics in Music and Society, Ethnomusicological Field Methods and Techniques, Introduction to American Studies, Rock and Rap as Cultural Phenomena, and Cultures in Comparison.


Newland is a music scholar who works at the intersection of voice studies, performance studies and the anthropology of higher education. She engages how the contemporary life of vocal repertoire within the African American art music tradition is shaped by institutions.

Newland’s dissertation, Sounding Black: An Ethnography of Racialized Vocal Practices at Fisk University, is a phenomenological study of racialized vocality in the United States, with a focus on blackness. The project traces the differences between curricular and non-curricular vocality to foreground the ways that students resist 21st century forms of racial violence and create paths towards the world they desire. Through ethnographic research about racialized vocal practices among Fisk students, a historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee, Newland examines the procedures at play in sounding “black”–the performance of race ideologies through vocal acts, as well as the ethics of listening for race in voices. A Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship supports her research.

She previously explored the role of vocality in the naturalization and denaturalization of race in two Master’s theses, one in African American Studies and the other in Ethnomusicology.  In the first, she examined blackface minstrelsy’s influence on the performance practices of concert spirituals by analyzing the politics of diction and orthography in constructing the dynamics between race and repertoire among American opera singers. This research was awarded the 2007 Langston Hughes Thesis Award for the Humanities from Columbia’s Institute for Research in African American Studies. More recently, she conducted an ethnographic study of a Japanese gospel choir in residence at a Baptist church in Harlem investigating how these Japanese singers, many of whom are atheist, and their Christian African American hosts negotiated racial and spiritual difference through gospel music making.


Ph.D. Music. Columbia University

Sounding “Black”: An Ethnography of Racialized Vocality at Fisk University 

M.Phil. Music. Columbia University

M.A.  Music. Columbia University

Cocolo Japanese Gospel Choir at Convent Avenue Baptist Church: Sincerity and the Negotiation of Racial and Spiritual Difference in Harlem

M.A. African American Studies. Columbia University

Concert Spirituals’ Minstrel Inheritance

B.A. African American Studies, high honors. Oberlin College

Margaret Bonds’ “Ballad of the Brown King”: An African American Female Composes

B.M. Voice Performance.  Oberlin Conservatory of Music

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