This collection includes content presented at the 2018 and 2021 Dayton Funk Symposia at the University of Dayton. Many records contain video recordings of the presentations.The Dayton Funk Symposium documents the African American Funk music movement that put Dayton, Ohio, on the map in the 1970s and 1980s, leading to its identification as the World Capitol of Funk. The symposium is a project of the Graul Chair in Arts and Languages.
2nd Funk Symposium: Selected Proceedings, 2021
Sharon Davis Gratto
This is a printed proceedings of symposium presentations by authors who elected to submit them. They are available free for download, but printed volumes are available for $6 plus tax and shipping.
Funk in Visual Art: Visual Art of Earth, Wind, and Fire
This presentation examines the ancient Egyptian symbols in the visual art of Earth, Wind, and Fire, including album covers, music videos, and concert performances.
Pour Some Water on Me: Personal Reflections on Dayton Funk and the People Who Created It
In this presentation, Bass will share personal reflections on Dayton funk and the people who created it; presentation is based on his 2015 book of the same name.
Just a Touch of Love: Slave and Sonic Messages of Upliftment
This presentation will examine trends in the music of the funk band known as Slave during the latter 1970s to 1980. Sonically Slave’s first five albums — Slave, Hardness of the World, The Concept, Just A Touch of Love, and Stone Jam — were marked by critical stylistic innovation and experimentation. While this was amid musical change, the band remained committed to creating particular compositions centered around notions of upliftment and social commentary, both through lyrical messaging and instrumental arrangements.
Time for Conversation: Reflecting on Dayton Funk and the 2nd Funk Symposium
Scot Brown, Ed Sarath, and Marcus Chapman
Funk Album Cover Artwork
This presentation will explore the various themes on album covers created by and for funk bands in the 1970s.
My Sister’s Keeper: Celebrating the Black Women of Funk
Minnita Daniel-Cox and Larry Gates
In a genre marked by minimalism and masculinity, the inclusion of the singing diva created a highlight in funk. This presentation will explore the use of melody and women’s voices in the evolution of this genre and will examine the contributions of divas of funk, including Lyn Collins, Betty Davis, Chaka Kahn, Aretha Franklin, and others, spanning from the birth of funk to the present day. If the soundtrack to the civil rights movement was made of gospel and soul, the soundtrack to the Black Power movement was made of funk. This progeny of soul music differed in its use of heaping amounts of both syncopation and Black pride. While an initial survey of funk would conclude that it is a male dominant genre, closer inspection proves that the clarion voice of the Black diva was a present and driving force in this music. As funk evolves from a civil rights orientation to becoming more mainstream, the Black diva is an integral part of innovations. The acoustic militancy of '60s funk gave way to the electronic grooves of '70s funk, and the singing diva remained ever present.
Pour Some Water on Me: Prince and the Ohio Players
De Angela Duff
In Prince’s incomplete and posthumous memoir, The Beautiful Ones, The Ohio Players is referenced four times. However, Prince’s love of The Ohio Players was evident, decades before the release of this book. Prince has covered Ohio Players’ classics, such as “Skin Tight,” “I Want To Be Free,” “Love Rollercoaster,” and “Heaven Must Be Like This,” in numerous rehearsals, shows, and after shows over the years. However, The Ohio Players are rarely discussed by music critics as one of Prince’s influences. This presentation will attempt to deconstruct why, while also exploring Prince’s funk roots and influences.
"My Name is Prince, and I am Funky!" Prince’s Funk and How He Helped Bring It to a New (Power) Generation
Throughout his career, Prince Rogers Nelson crossed many genres, pop, rock, punk, R&B, jazz, soul, and funk. He created funky jams from Erotic City to Housequake to Musicology. This presentation addresses an understudied and essential fact that Prince Rogers Nelson is funky. This presentation will outline his contribution to the funk genre through a study of his collaboration with funk legends, including The Time, George Clinton, Sly & The Family Stone, Larry Graham and Maceo Parker, Chaka Khan, Mavis Staples, and Rick James.
Land of Funk Art
The Funk Mural on Land of Funk Way in Dayton was completed in 2018. There are, however, a few other artistic tributes to some of our Dayton Funk heroes, including the metal statue tribute to Roger Troutman and a mural to the Dayton Funk bands located on Germantown Street. Although these are just a few examples here in Dayton, there are also many images of "funk art" all over the world.
There’s a Whole Lotta Rhythm Goin’ Round: How Funk Shaped U.S. Copyright
Rooted in stylized grooves and lineages of musical borrowing, funk can often seem to exist at the periphery of copyright protection. Its influence on Hip-Hop and R&B, particularly through collage techniques involving digital samples, contributed to a rise in the early twenty-first century of infringement disputes. How have these cases shaped copyright protection of music? After a gloss of federal copyright law, this presentation surveys landmark lawsuits involving funk songs and their impact on later cases. Through its interdisciplinary investigation, this presentation reveals how funk cases proved that musical style offers critical context to legal evaluations of musical similarity and the scope of copyright protection. In so doing, it highlights ethical interest-balancing in copyright disputes between preserving rights and promoting creativity.
Reissued Funk: Reclaiming the Feminist Innovations of Betty Davis
Danielle E. Maggio
Funk musician Betty Davis’ 1970s studio albums were reissued in 2007 to a wave of critical acclaim. The re-release cemented the pioneer status of the artist who was once ridiculed and boycotted for her sexually dominant lyrics and physically suggestive live performances. Davis is now considered an artistic innovator and progressive social figure whose aesthetic ideas and practices, although marginalized during the 1970s, are now being celebrated in mainstream popular music. At the forefront of this celebration is a new generation of avant-garde Black women artists who do not simply label Davis as a pioneer of a less-liberated time, but rather reclaim her for present- day resistance against race, gender, and sexuality politics within the music industry.
Poetry Reading No. 1: Herbert Woodward Martin
Herbert Woodward Martin
Professor Emeritus of English Herbert Woodward Martin performs two works of his original poetry: "I Dream You Harlem" and "A Negro Soldier’s Vietnam Diary."
Poetry Reading No. 2: Herbert Woodward Martin
Herbert Woodward Martin
Professor Emeritus of English Herbert Woodward Martin performs two works of his original poetry: "The Spoils of the Day" and "Out of the Dead Bones."
Poetry Reading No. 3: Herbert Woodward Martin and Furaha Henry-Jones
Herbert Woodward Martin and Furaha Henry-Jones
"The Exorcism" and "The Lady Has Her Say"
Opening Panel: Looking Back at Dayton Funk History
John P. McCombe, Keith Harrison, Kerry Rutledge, Ray Turner, and Tony Allen
John P. McCombe, Moderator; Panelists: Keith Harrison, Kerry Rutledge, Ray Turner, Tony Allen
Funk and the Defunct Music Curriculum
What, if any, is the place of funk in a 21st century music curriculum in America? This talk responds to this question by situating funk with the context of what Jeff Pressing, in a seminal essay, calls “Black Atlantic Rhythm” (BAR). Pressing’s heading refers to the multitudinous and massively prominent body of rhythmic languages and practices that originated in Africa and took hold, and further evolved, through its various musical diasporas. I view Funk and Black Atlantic Rhythm as part of what I call “21st century” common practice rhythmic literacy, which I argue to exceed in importance Eurocanonic common practice harmony (for which I believe there still remains a place, but only in a radically transformed music studies paradigm).
Two Dayton City Commissioners Speak: Christopher Shaw and Jeffrey Mims Share Personal Experiences with Dayton Funk
Christopher Shaw and Jeffrey Mims
Scot Brown moderates this conversation.
Finding the (P-) Funk in Techno
Although techno and funk may seem to some like disparate genres, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic were essential influences to the early creators of techno music in Detroit in the early '80s. This presentation examines the connections between the budding techno scene and the P-Funk universe in terms of musical influence and features, and in physical space, as the two scenes interacted in the studios like Detroit's United Sound Systems.
Program: 2021 Dayton Funk Symposium and Line Dance Party
University of Dayton
Program includes a welcome from Sharon Davis Gratto, Graul Chair in Arts and Languages; a schedule of presentations; and biographies of presenters, performers, and panelists.
Prince, Funk, Improvisation, and the Muse of Black Popular Music History
This presentation offers a comparison of two performances of “Alphabet Street,” the 1988 studio recording and a 2007 live performance, to examine how Prince engages in improvisation during live performance to reorient the perception of Black popular music history to privilege funk and to place his own work within that funk trajectory.
Funk Pedagogy: An Ethnographic, Historical, and Practical Study of Funk Music in Dayton, Ohio
Caleb Vanden Eynden
This presentation will discuss an honors thesis research project completed as an undergraduate music student at the University of Dayton. Titled “Traditional Funk: An Ethnographic, Historical, and Practical Study of Funk Music in Dayton, Ohio,” the thesis explores traditional funk style, Dayton’s musical history, and how funk music can be incorporated into music programs and curricula across Dayton area schools. During his student teaching semester, Vanden Eynden had an opportunity to teach a unit on Dayton funk to students at Springboro High School. This presentation will explore some of the findings from this project and share ideas for its future directions.
Keynote Address — Funk and Afro Futurism: The Past, Present, and Future of the Funk
Dr. Frederick “Rickey” Vincent is author of the award-winning Funk: The Music, the People and the Rhythm of The One (1996), the first definitive treatment of funk music and culture. His address addresses:
- Liberation in the Moment: Other Worlds and Black Liberation (from Soul Train to “Wakanda Forever”)
- The Rhythm Revolution: Liberation, Motion, and Black Identity (JB and The One)
- Transcendence: The Higher Plane of the Funk Groove (Sly and the body/mind/spirit unification)
- The Collective: Tribalism in a Post-Industrial World (Funk blends genres, blends cultures as long as it’s “On the One”)
- The Epic: P-Funk Earth Tour and Beyond (The “super groups” take over)
- More Bounce: Digital Funk and the Search for the Soul in the Machine (From Disco to House to EDM)
- Bring That Beat Back: the Return of the Raw (From LA to DC, the funk band returns)
Jimi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsys
This presentation will focus extensively on funk music and how Jimi Hendrix changed the sound of funk with his pioneering guitar style. I explore his impact on funk guitarists by exploring the dynamics of Hendrix’s short-lived but highly impactful group, the BOG’s and his influence on artists like Ernie Isley, Eddie Hazel, Prince, and Lenny Kravitz, as well as his impact on the funk bands out of Dayton, Ohio. Bands like Sun, Faze-O, Roger Troutman and ZAPP seemed to really champion Hendrix and the BOG’s formula of giving the guitar prominence within their funk compositions. Jimi and the BOG’s are the missing link that bridges the old school funk championed by James Brown and his peers with the new styled guitar heavy funk, championed by P-Funk, Isley’s (3+3 lineup), Prince, and Dayton’s many funk groups like Slave.
Funk from a Legal Prism
James Williams and Merle Wilberding
For more than 25 years, James "Diamond" Williams has had the opportunity to see the Funk world from a legal prism, engaging in a wide spectrum of experiences with the Ohio Players. He discusses his meeting with the music icon Clive Davis, the president of Arista Records, and the potential legal pitfalls, including issues with (and between) record companies, booking agents, competing and infringing groups, promoters with their own agendas, and, of course, the Internal Revenue Service.