The mosquitoes and stink bugs have not yet breached my dorm room window and for that I am grateful. The 2022 Musical Geography Project begins with me, Lizzie Gray, alone and so lost without my fellow researchers who will save me from the horrors of Dr. Louis Epstein’s sole attention with their return to campus next week (I’m just joshing you, Louis, we’re gonna have a great first 4 days). I’m armed with a new mouse, all of my friends’ fans that they lent me for the summer, and a thirst for knowledge and chai tea.

This year, we’re focusing on highlighting graduates from historically black colleges and universities, or, HBCUs. Performers, musicians, and composers are all equally important to look into- and perhaps, as well, those graduates who didn’t go on to do work in the music world. Who are the graduates of HBCUs? Where did they go after their education? What did they do with their degrees? There is a whole lot of room to maneuver in this area of research– we don’t yet know where exactly this topic will take us! But I’m very excited to dive into this musical world, and emerge on the other side of the summer with scads much more knowledge than I began it with. I hope that I can enter my sophomore year of college with higher confidence in public speaking, better research skills, and greater knowledge of the impact that graduates of HBCUs have had on the United States and beyond.

I’m majoring in History and French, and plan on going on to graduate school to get a library science degree. This project is a great intersection of my interests (archival research and music) and is going to set me up wonderfully for my post-graduation plans. I’m ready for a sneak peak into my future professional life! I grew up in the small town of Spearfish, South Dakota, where the nearest big concert was 6 hours away and the closest Target was a 45 minute drive down the interstate.

Needless to say, there weren’t a whole lot of opportunities for professional research, so this will be my first experience with it. However, I’m confident that I’ll be able to bring in my years of choir experience and willingness to learn to make significant contributions to the project.

To get to know me a little better, I’ve provided two pictures of my 8 year old dog, Lucy. She’s a Miniature American Shepherd (just like Barley, Louis’ dog!) and I love her more than life itself. It’s been tough being nine hours away from her at college, but I think I’ll be feeling a little bit better about that this summer, thanks to Barley. I have two more dogs back home: Gwen (my little sibling’s dog, Lucy’s daughter, and the third photo) and Watson (my mom’s dog, a Boston Terrier. He’s the fourth photo) along with all the dogs and puppies at my grandma’s house, where she runs Bluegrass Kennels. The fifth picture is a photo of one of her newest puppies named Lime. I’m very excited to see all of them again in August.

I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities the Musical Geography Project will give me, and can’t wait to get started on this summer’s adventure!