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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

James Gordon Williams

James Gordon Williams behind a piano.

Associate Professor

African American Studies

Art and Music Histories

208 Sims Hall


Research and Teaching Interests

  • Practices of Resistance in Afro-diasporic Improvisation and Composition
  • Performance of Racial Identity through Music Technology
  • Epistemologies of African American Music
  • Digital Humanities


  • Ph.D. Integrative Studies in Music, University of California, San Diego
  • M.A. Music, New York University
  • B.Mus. New England Conservatory of Music

Current Course

Masters of Black Music AAS 408/608

Past Courses

  • Masters of Black Music
  • Introduction to African American Music
  • History of Jazz – 1940 to Present
  • Survey of African Music


Selected Publications

Williams, James Gordon. “Randy Weston’s Pan African Politics of Music Education.” Jazz and Culture Vol. 4, No. 1, (In Press-May 2021)

James Gordon Williams, 2020, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s critique of the Danziger Bridge shootings, Jazz Research Journal, ADVANCE ACCESS to 13.1-2 (2019): Special Issue: Jazz and Everyday Aesthetics, DOI: 10.1558/jazz.37660,

Williams, James Gordon. "Black Muse 4 U: Liminality, Self-Determination, and Racial Uplift in the Music of Prince." Journal of African American Studies 21, no. 3 (2017): 296-319

Williams, James Gordon. "Crossing Cinematic and Sonic Bar Lines: T-Pain's 'Can't Believe It'." Ethnomusicology Review 19, (2014)

Williams, James Gordon. “African American Influences on American Music” in Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories That Shaped Our Culture, edited by Jacqueline Edmondson, 17-23, Greenwood Press, (2013).

Williams, James Gordon. “Improvising on Feedback Piano: Aesthetic Discourses Behind Technology and Sound” in Rethinking Improvisation: Artistic Explorations & Conceptual Writing, edited by Henrik A. Frisk & Stefan Östersjö, 169-177. Lund University, Sweden, (2013)

Unrepeatable Life

Unrepeatable Life by James Gordon Williams, Audio CD, Label: CD Baby, ASIN: B000CAJI6U

Artistic Research, Performances and Installations

Model Citizen, Here I Stand. Multidisciplinary Performance Exhibition with Crystal Z. Campbell Living Arts, Tulsa, Oklahoma, December 7th, 2018-January 18th, 2019

You are mine. I see now, I’m a have to let you go. Suné Woods, Fred Moten & James Gordon Williams. UCLA Hammer Museum, August 23, 2018.

You are mine. I see now, I’m a have to let you go. Suné Woods, Fred Moten & James Gordon Williams. Light Work, September 13, 2017.

Outlaw Culture Music. Syracuse University, Community Folk Art Center, November 19, 2015.

Solo piano improvisation for World Premiere of Cauleen Smith’s Crow Requiem & Speculations: Science Fiction, Chronopolitics, & Social Change. Everson Museum, April 7, 2015.


Grammy-Award Winning Musician Terri Lyne Carrington Headlines Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Public Affairs Lecture

(March 12, 2021)

Carrington will discuss her distinguished musical career and social justice work.

Excellence Personified

(May 22, 2018)

Humanities Center Fellows praised for "disciplinary rigor, interdisciplinary creativity, ethical engagement"

Purple Reign

(Feb. 8, 2018)

Late musician’s commitment to social justice overlooked, James Gordon Williams says

Outlaw Culture Music

(Nov. 16, 2015)

A&S professor James Gordon Williams makes ‘faculty debut’ with concert of original music

Zeitgeist of Opportunity

(April 1, 2015)

Creative Musician James Gordon Williams to Headline Local Events