Phone: (310) 206-8644


Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Ethnomusicology

Cheryl L. Keyes is the author of Rap Music and Street Consciousness, which received a CHOICE award for outstanding academic books. Her areas of specialty include African American music, gender, and popular music studies. Professor Keyes has conducted extensive fieldwork on rap music and hip-hop culture in Mali, West Africa, New York City, Detroit, Los Angeles, and London. Her research has been published in major journals such as Black Music Research Journal, Ethnomusicology, Folklore Forum, Journal of American Folklore, Journal of Popular Music Studies, The World of Music, and has appeared as book chapters, reference articles, and as reviews. Her recent research includes a study on the legendary New Orleans piano player, Henry “Professor Longhair” Byrd and a study underway on African American funk rock divas. Professor Keyes has also completed a short documentary that she wrote, produced, and directed called Beyond Central Avenue: Contemporary Female Jazz Instrumentalists of Los Angeles, funded by UCLA Center for Community Partnerships. In the areas of leadership, Professor Keyes became the first woman as well as the first African American to serve as the president of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US Chapter (IASPM-US) from 2007-2009. She is also a former member of the Board of Directors for the Society for Ethnomusicology and the past-chair of the Faculty Executive Committee for the School of Arts and Architecture at UCLA. In addition to her teaching, research duties, and service, Professor Keyes’s musical creative works have been performed by the Women’s Jazz Orchestra of Los Angeles at noted venues such as the Hollywood Bowl and the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, where she made her debut as Musical-Artistic Director for the “Blues in the Summertime” Lady Jazz concert series. As a performer, she is a former member of trumpeter Clark Terry’s All-Girl All-Star Jazz Band, and she has recorded with New Orleans rhythm-blues pianist sensation Eddie Bo of New Orleans and with jazz-clarinetist-educator Alvin Batiste. Among Professor Keyes’s accolades include winning an NAACP Image Award in the category of “Outstanding World Music Album” for her debut CD, Let Me Take You There, being a recipient of the Indiana University’s Herman C. Hudson Alumni Award and an honoree of The Gerald Wilson Living Legends Music and Lecture Series.

Her areas of research and teaching include comparative slavery; political and intellectual movements in Cuba, Latin America, and the African Diaspora; gender ideologies in the Caribbean, and black feminist thought. Her current book manuscript, Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba: La Escalera and the Insurgencies of 1841-1844, explores the resistance movements and political cultures of enslaved rural Cubans during the mid-nineteenth century.


Ph.D., Indiana University

M.M.E., Indiana University

B.M.E., Xavier University