Georgiary Bledsoe earned the B.A. and M.A. at Stanford University and a Ph.D. at Duke University where she was the Mary Lou Williams Instructor of Music. The American Musicological Society awarded her the Howard Mayer Brown Award for her work on the ethnographic history of gospel music in St. Louis. She completed a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brandeis University with a joint appointment in Music, African & African American Studies and American Studies. She also taught at Tufts University and served as a Visiting Scholar at Duke University. She has lectured widely and is a published author.
She is the Founder and former Executive Director of BUMP, a nonprofit organization that empowers youth through music of the African diaspora. BUMP’s micro-affirmational pedagogy and curriculum actively and continually empower participants and counters the negative microaggressions students experience in other settings. Its programs constitute vital cultural practice which scaffolds long-term positive outcomes for participants.
Bledsoe is currently the Founder and Principal of BaobaoTree LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to equipping K-12 music educators with tools for teaching music of African and its diaspora. She serves as Advisor to a number of education, youth development and arts organizations, including the Durham Public Schools Arts Advisory Council, Spark Media, Shabutaso and Musical Empowerment. She is the recipient of the 2018 Keeper of the Dream Award.
Bledsoe grew up the youngest of seventeen siblings in inner-city East St. Louis, IL where her childhood piano teacher modeled and inculcated African American cultural significance, self-acceptance and musical skill. Though the national press labeled her community the crime capital of the country, community members invested time and talent in the neighborhood youth, ensuring that their on-the-ground reality was affirming and empowering. Dr. Bledsoe strives to pay that investment forward with music scholarship and activism that opens doors of opportunity for underserved youth and mirrors back to them their relevance and efficacy. She has four adult children and dotes on her six grandchildren.
Hear her interview on WUNC's "The State of Things."