About Jeffrey Magee
Jeffrey Magee teaches courses and writes about music in the United States, and his research has explored jazz, popular song, and musical theater and the ways artists who grew up in marginalized positions helped define what, in their time, stood at the center of American popular music.
He is the author of The Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big and Jazz (Oxford, 2005), which won the Irving Lowens Award for Best Book in American Music from the Society for American Music, as well as an award for excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. His second book, Irving Berlin’s American Musical Theater (Oxford, 2012), was supported as a We the People Project of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and was runner-up for the Lowens Award. His book-in-progress Gypsy and the American Dream is under contract for publication in Oxford University Press’s Broadway Legacies Series and will include interview excerpts with Stephen Sondheim and others involved in Gypsy‘s original production.
Winner of the 2021 Kurt Weill Prize for an article representing “distinguished scholarship in music theater since 1900 (including opera),” Professor Magee has published articles in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, American Music, Black Music Research Journal, Current Musicology, Studies in Musical Theatre, and Musical Quarterly, and a chapter, “Ragtime and Early Jazz,” in The Cambridge History of American Music. The inaugural issue of Jazz Perspectives (2007) featured his “Kinds of Blue: Miles Davis, Afro-Modernism, and Blues” as the lead article. His article “Miranda’s Les Miz” appeared in a special issue of Studies in Musical Theatre (2018) devoted to the musical Hamilton.
He has given public lectures at the Library of Congress, 92Y, Harvard University, and many other colleges and universities. His voice may be heard on the Peabody Award-winning documentary series Leonard Bernstein: An American Life, narrated by Susan Sarandon and widely aired on public radio, and he has been interviewed by The New York Times and Al Jazeera America on subjects related to early 20th-century popular music and race. He has served on review panels for the NEH, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Before joining the Illinois faculty, he taught at Indiana University (1997-2006), and served as executive editor of the NEH-funded score series Music of the United States of America at the University of Michigan (1993-97). He has been an editorial board member of the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of Musicology, Jazz Perspectives, Studies in Musical Theatre, and the Center for Black Music Research, and Oxford University Press’s Broadway Legacies series, and was founding editor of the book series Profiles in Popular Music for Indiana University Press. He served as director-at-large on the Board of the American Musicological Society 2014-16.
As an administrator, Professor Magee served as the Director of the School of Music from 2012 to 2019. In that role, he moderated and presented at panels of the College Music Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the National Association of Schools of Music. From 2019 to 2022, he was Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Media.
PhD (musicology), University of Michigan
MA (music history and literature), University of California at Berkeley
BA (history) and BM (music), Oberlin College
Research and publications
Ongoing and upcoming research
“‘Honor the Source’: Race, Representation, and Intellectual Property in Jelly’s Last Jam,” Studies in Musical Theatre 17, no. 2 (2023): 107-130.
“Sugar Foot Stomp,” Library of Congress, National Recording Registry (2023)
In preparation. “The Hammersteins: A Theatrical Dynasty,” in Rodgers and Hammerstein in Context, ed. by Dominic McHugh and William Everett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
“‘Nearly everything I wrote’: Sondheim and the Actors Studio,” in Sondheim in Our Time and His, edited by W. Anthony Sheppard (New York; Oxford University Press, 2022)
Co-organizer and presenter, “The Great American Songbook,” workshop at the American Musicological Society annual meeting, Zoom, November 2021, with Walter Frisch (co-organizer), Lisa Barg, Eric Comstock, Elizabeth Craft, Daniel Goldmark, Nate Sloan, and Judith Tick.
Presenter, “Barrellhousing: Music and Dance in Call and Response,” Theorizing African American Music conference, Cleveland, June 2022
Guest instructor for classes at Columbia University and University of Southern California, spring and summer 2022
Organizer and host, “Awadagin Pratt: Black in America,” Lincoln Hall Theater, Urbana, IL, September 2022
Speaker, “On A Little Night Music,” Dessert and Conversation pre-performance talk, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana, IL, October 2022