Kyra Gaunt

Kyra Gaunt

Assistant Professor
Department of Music & Theatre
Department of Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies
kyra gaunt photo

Assistant Professor Kyra Gaunt, Ph.D. is a notable ethnomusicologist and innovative pedagog whose ethnography The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop published by New York University Press won the 2007 Alan Merriam Book Prize for most outstanding English-speaking monograph awarded by the Society for Ethnomusicology.

Supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as a Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Ford Foundation, The Games Black Girls Play contributed to the emergence of black girlhood studies and hip-hop feminism. It also inspired the choreographic work BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play by Camille A Brown and Dancers, which was nominated for a 2016 Bessie Award for Outstanding Production and was staged at The Joyce Theater, Jacob's Pillow, and The Kennedy Center. 

For over 20 years, Professor Gaunt's black feminist scholarship and "new jack" pedagogy in music, anthropology, and sociology has focused on challenging patriarchy, sexism, and white supremacy. 
Her scholarship can be found in the peer-reviewed journals Musical Quarterly (2002), Parcours Anthropologiques (2012), The Journal for Popular Music Studies (2019, 2015) as well as in critical texts on hip-hop and feminist studies including Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic (2009), The Girls' History and Culture Reader: The Twentieth Century (2011), Hip-hop and Obama (2015), Black Feminism in Education (2015), and Voicing Girlhood in Popular Music: Performance, Authority, Authenticity (2017), among others. Her next book examines how music reproduces racism and sexploitation online based on case studies from YouTube to Wikipedia. 

In graduate school, she initially pursued a doctorate in classical voice yet earned a Ph.D. in musicology instead from the School of Music at the University of Michigan. Following appointments at the University of Virginia, NYU, and Baruch and Hunter Colleges at CUNY, Professor Gaunt joined the Department of Music and Theatre at UAlbany in July of 2017. While occasionally singing classical music, she continues to perform as an R&B singer-songwriter and a jazz improvisational vocalist in New York City and in the Capital Region. 

Her proudest accomplishments include being chosen as a member of the 2009 inaugural class of "world changing" TED Fellows by TED (of TED Talks) and her professional service consulting and offering defense and prosecutorial testimony in state and federal legal court cases as a federally-certified social media expert.