Dr. Nicholas Gebhardt

Professor of Jazz and Popular Music Studies, Director of Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research

Birmingham School of Media

Nick Gebhardt is Professor of Jazz and Popular Music Studies and Director of Research in the Birmingham School of Media.

His work focuses on jazz and popular music in American culture and his publications include Going For Jazz: Musical Practices and American Ideology (Chicago), Vaudeville Melodies: Popular Musicians and Mass Entertainment in American Culture, 1870-1929 (Chicago) and the co-edited collection The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives: This Is Our Music (Routledge). In 2014, he founded the new Routledge book series Transnational Studies in Jazz with University colleague Tony Whyton, which provides a platform for rethinking the methodologies and concepts used to analyse jazz.

From 2010-2013, Nick was a senior researcher for the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA)-funded Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities project, a European consortium of 13 researchers working across seven universities in five countries. He is currently the part of for the transnational JPI Heritage Plus-funded research project Cultural Heritage and Improvised Music in European Festivals (CHIME) and is the Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded research network Jazz and Everyday Aesthetics. He is on the editorial board of the Jazz Research Journal (Equinox) and edits the journal’s Extended Play, which offers a space for experimental writing about jazz.

Areas of Expertise
    • Jazz Studies
    • Popular Music Studies
    • Cultural History of American Music
    • Cultural theories of jazz and popular music
    • BA (Hons), University of Sydney
    • PhD, University of Sydney

    • International Association for the Study of Popular Music UK - Ireland
    • Organisation of American Historians
    • Society for American Music
    • American Society for Aesthetics


    MA Media and Cultural Studies


    Nick's research covers such diverse fields as jazz and popular music studies, cultural theory, media and cultural studies, American history, and American studies. All of these are complimented by his previous career as a radio broadcaster and producer, arts journalist and ongoing career as a musical practitioner.

    His published work focuses on jazz cultures and histories, and involves a number of major research projects, including theories of jazz history, jazz and its audiences, and jazz and philosophy. Recent chapters on the folklorist Alan Lomax's Library of Congress recordings of Jelly Roll Morton and the Miles Davis Quintet's 1964 performance of 'My Funny Valentine' at the Teatro Dell'Arte in Milan explore the relationship between music and historical narratives in different media. Two longitudinal, qualitative research projects with regionally-based external partners, Jazzlines in Birmingham and the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, document changing concepts of musical value among jazz audiences, performers and promoters. This theme has been the focus of several major projects that explore transformations in the meaning and value of popular music, including his most recent monograph, Music is Our Business: Vaudeville and the Making of Popular Musicians in American Culture, 1870-1929 (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

    Postgraduate Supervision

    Nick is interested in supervising doctoral students researching all aspects of jazz and popular music studies, particularly students who are interested in cultural theory, the historiography of music. His current PhD students are working on topics such as Northern soul, popular music consumption and big data, the politics of jazz, creative practice in jazz composition, empathetic performance and group improvisation, sound art, musicality and musical production, anarcho-punk, jazz on television in Portugal during the dictatorship, and audio mastering in popular music.


    Vaudeville Melodies: Popular Musicians and Mass Entertainment in American Culture, 1870-1929. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.

    “Hollywood Musicals Make History.” In Edwards, S., Sayer, F., and Dolski, M., eds. History on Screen: Documentary, Film and Television for Historians. London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

    “A Time For Jazz: History and Narrative in Alan Lomax’s.” In Fagge, R., and Pillai, N., eds. New Jazz Conceptions: History, Theory, Practice. London: Routledge, 2016.

    “Screening the Event: Watching Miles Davis’ ‘My Funny Valentine.’” In Doctor, J., Elsdon, P., and Heile, B., eds. Watching Jazz: Encountering Jazz on Screen. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

    Gebhardt, N. and Whyton, T. (2015) The cultural politics of jazz collectives: This is our music. The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives: This Is Our Music . Taylor and Francis Inc., pp. 1-250. ISBN 9781317672715 (ISBN)

    “‘Let There Be Rock!’ Myth and Ideology in the Rock Festivals of the Transatlantic Counterculture.” In McKay, G., ed. The Pop Festival. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.

    “Introduction: The Collective Problem in Jazz.” In Gebhardt, N. and Whyton, T., eds. The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives: This Is Our Music. New York: Routledge, 2015.

    “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? Mythical Realities and Historical Metaphors in Spike Lee’s” Jazz Research Journal. 6/2, 2012

    “When Jazz Was Foreign: Rethinking Jazz History.” Jazzforschung. 44, 2012.

    “Introduction: The Collective Problem in Jazz.” Special Double Issue on Jazz Collectives. Jazz Research Journal. 5/1-2 (Guest Editor), 2011.

    “Crossing Boundaries I: The Historical Context for Ravel’s North American Tour.” In Mawer, D., ed. Ravel Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    “Jazz, History, Memory.” Jazz Research Journal. 3/2, 2010.

    Going For Jazz: Musical Practices and American Ideology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

    Links and Social Media