Ann Powers, NPR music critic to speak at Center for Popular Music

cover of Ann Powers’ book “Good Booty”

Story by Mamie Lomax / Contributing Writer

Ann Powers, National Public Radio’s music critic and correspondent, will make an appearance at the Center for Popular Music on Middle Tennessee State University’s campus on Monday, Jan. 29.

Ann Powers “is one of the leading popular music and popular culture critics working today in any medium,” says Dr. Gregory Reish, director of the Center for Popular Music.

Powers began her career working as a columnist and editor at San Francisco Weekly, moving up to pop critic at The New York Times and then senior editor at the Village Voice from 1997 until her move to senior critic at Blender and senior curator at Experience Music Project in 2001. Before joining NPR in 2006, Powers worked as the chief pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times. Powers is also an author. She co-wrote “Tori Amos: Piece by Piece” with Amos herself in 2005, wrote “Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America” in 1999 and edited the 1995 book “Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop.” Today, Powers runs NPR’s blog, The Record, which focuses on popular music and also serves as NPR’s music critic and correspondent.

Powers’ visit to MTSU will focus around her recently published book, “Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music,” which is also the title of the event.

Dr. Reish remarked that “Good Booty” “is an outstanding piece of work engaging all sorts of important cultural issues through the lens of popular music.”

“Good Booty” was in the works for over a decade, taking Powers across the country and including Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Powers initially wanted her book to focus on 20th century American music, but throughout her research, found that ballroom dances and Creole songs of antebellum New Orleans proved to be key aspects of American popular music that couldn’t be ignored. One of Powers’ main arguments in “Good Booty” is that American popular music often focuses on social issues, specifically race, sex, and religion.

“As a music critic and journalist who works through mainstream outlets like NPR, Powers has an unusual ability to communicate deep, critical, insightful, and brilliant ideas in a way that remains accessible to students and the general public,” Reish said. He added that it is important for her to make an appearance at the Center for Popular Music because “she’s also extremely knowledgeable about the state of contemporary music, which she connects to musical history in fascinating and meaningful ways. She writes and talks about music that we know and love, all of us, regardless of generation.”  

Reish expects that attendees will “be enlightened by Powers’ wisdom and energized by her presentation.” 

Powers’ talk will be held in Room 140 inside the Center for Popular Music in Middle Tennessee State University’s Bragg Media and Entertainment Building. This event is free and open to the public. A parking map can be found at here. Off-campus guests can obtain a one-day event parking pass here.

For more information about The Center for Popular Music, visit the center in the Bragg Media and Entertainment building, or visit the center’s website.

To contact Music Editor Hayden Goodridge, email

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