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Lecture explores 'Girlieland'

Jewlia Eisenberg
Jewlia Eisenberg

Composer and musician Jewlia Eisenberg will present the 2005 Katzenstein Lecture, "Sounds Like Home: Voice, Text and Diaspora Consciousness in Nerdy-Sexy-Commie-Girlieland," on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. in Room 6-120.

As a visiting artist, Eisenberg also will attend classes and labs and meet with faculty, staff and students at MIT from Sept. 13 to 16.

Eisenberg has received critical acclaim for her CDs "Trilectic" and "The Grim Arithmetic of Water." She will discuss her own work and the musical life of the 8-year-old vocal trio, Charming Hostess, which includes Marika Hughes, Cynthia Taylor and Eisenberg.

Charming Hostess has received recognition for its CDs "Sarajevo Blues," "Punch," "Thick" and "Eat."

Eisenberg describes Hostess' music as an "aural world where Jewish and African diasporas collide, incorporating doo-wop, Pygmy counterpoint, Balkan harmony and Andalusian melody."

In a more grrrl mood, she has also called the Hostess genre, "nerdy-sexy-commie-girlie."

Charming Hostess will perform a free concert on Friday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. in Room 54-100.

The performance will feature works from the group's new CD, "Sarajevo Blues" (Tzadik), which draws on Bosnian poetry of love and resistance and celebrating the power of the human spirit.

A New York native, Eisenberg grew up in a black and Jewish commune in Brooklyn among labor and community organizers. As a young girl, she was a part of a "musical culture" in which she was expected to "lead songs on picket lines, demonstrations, meetings, to teach and preach��� A lot of my preoccupation with diaspora consciousness and multiple voices in dialogue comes from my oddball childhood," she said.

She studied music at the University of California at Berkeley and has traveled abroad to study the music of Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Israel and Egypt.

The concert is presented by the MIT Office of the Arts and the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies.

The talk and concert are both free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are necessary. For more information, call x3-2341.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 14, 2005 (download PDF).

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