First Advisor

Fulks, Jubal

First Committee Member

Oravitz, Michael

Second Committee Member

Kauffman, Deborah

Third Committee Member

Junne, George

Degree Name

Doctor of Arts

Document Type


Date Created



College of Performing and Visual Arts, Music, Music Student Work


This dissertation focuses on three of my musical compositions inspired by Wade in the Water, Billie Holiday, and Margaret Walker respectively: Evolution (for solo violin, 2016), Strange Fruit (arranged for string quartet, 2020), and Born Free (for voice, violin, and piano, 2022). From the perspective of a classical composer-violinist, I created musical portraits that reflect America's pre-civil rights oppression, the celebration of the Harlem Renaissance, and the landscape of political, social, and economic experiences. This dissertation can also serve as a tool for various individuals: fellow violinists seeking modern techniques that bridge classical music to popular music, composers in search of original compositions responding to our current times, and storytellers seeking an understanding of how music can be composed using literature as a structure. Following an introductory section, three chapters are presented and dedicated to the compositions and their connections to facets of our nation’s history. This compendium also includes recordings of my three works and an in-depth analysis of specific passages from a pedagogical approach. I hope scholars, educators, and performers are left with a spark of inspiration to create and perform works that reflect their heritage.

Abstract Format



80 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.