Center for Southern Studies to Welcome Pop Music Author, Historian for Second Annual Laurie Byington Lecture on the Contemporary South


MACON – Mercer University's Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies will welcome critic, writer and historian of American popular music Peter Guralnick Jan. 25 for the second annual Laurie Byington Lecture on the Contemporary South.

Guralnick's lecture, titled “The Secret Language of Rhythm and Blues: The Music and the Movement,” is free and open to the public and will take place at 6 p.m. in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center on the Macon campus.

“Macon's place in southern music history is important. Peter Guralnick's lecture will highlight the popular music of the region and its significance to southern history,” said Dr. Doug Thompson, associate professor of history and southern studies and director of the Spencer B. King Jr. Center. “We are grateful to have someone of his stature come to Mercer.”

Guralnick has been called “a national resource” by critic Nat Hentoff for work that has argued passionately and persuasively for the vitality of this country's intertwined black and white musical traditions.

His books include the prize-winning two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love, as well as Sweet Soul Music, and Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke. His latest work, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll, was published by Little, Brown and Company in November 2015.

Guralnick won a Grammy for his liner notes for Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club. He wrote and co-produced the documentary Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll, and wrote the scripts for the Grammy-winning documentary Sam Cooke/Legend and Martin Scorsese's blues documentary Feel Like Going Home. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010.

Guralnick graduated from Boston University in 1971 with a master's degree in creative writing and has authored more than a dozen books about the history of rock 'n' roll, blues, country music and soul music.

The Laurie Byington Lecture Series promotes an examination of the contemporary American South. Madge T. Byington established the series to honor her daughter, a 1992 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and former member of the College of Liberal Arts Alumni Board of Directors, and to assist the University in bringing a distinguished expert, or recognized leader in his/her field or discipline, to the Macon campus to give an annual lecture.

The lectures and other activities of the Center are supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies

The Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies fosters critical discussions about the many meanings of the South. As the only center for southern studies in the United States dedicated to the education and enrichment of undergraduate students, the Center's primary purpose is to examine the region's complex history and culture through courses, conversations and events that are open, honest and accessible.