Guthrie Ramsey

Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music


Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.  A widely published writer, he is the author of Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop (University of California Press, 2003). It was named outstanding book of the year by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.  He also has recently completed In Walked Bud: Earl “Bud” Powell and the Modern Jazz Challenge, which is forthcoming from the University of California Press. His next book, Who Hears Here?: Essays on Black Music History and Society, a mid-career collection of his essays is also forthcoming. He was recipient of the Lowens Award from the Society for American Music for best article on an American music topic in 2001.

Ramsey received his doctorate in musicology from the University of Michigan and taught at Tufts University before joining the U-Penn faculty in 1998.  He was a Thurgood Marshall Dissertation Fellow at Dartmouth College, a DuBois Institute Fellow at Harvard University, and has been a visiting professor at Princeton University and Harvard University.

He is a pianist, composer and arranger for his Philadelphia-based band, Dr. Guy’s MusiQology.  In 2007 the group released a CD titled Y the Q? and in 2012 he released The Colored Waiting Room. The sextet produces original music in a sound blending jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, neo-soul, and classical.

Among his recent work is “Someone Is Listening,” a commission (written with Barack Obama’s inaugural poet, Dr. Elizabeth Alexander) commemorating the 100th anniversary of the NAACP. He co-curated the 2010 exhibition Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institute. Ramsey was also creative consultant and librettist for Ramsey Lewis’ A Proclamation of Hope: A Symphonic Poem, which premiered in 2009. His three-movement suite for voice and jazz ensemble, Art Songs in the Kingdom of Culture, premiered in February 2012 was written in tribute to W.E.B. Du Bois. Other work includes, essays in the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial Catalogue, the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art,, and several short films related to the Colored Waiting Room project. Ramsey is the founder and editor of the popular blog,, which is read around the world and boasts more than 65,000 views.


Publications and Recordings