Skip to main content
Browse by:

Small Talk at FHI with DJ Scholar Lynnée Denise

Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton was a discarded icon of the era that ushered in American rock n' roll music, unjustifiably maligned by record companies despite her undeniable presence on stage. Her quintessential single, "Hound Dog," made popular when re-recorded by Elvis Presley, is an example of how this audacious performer's contribution to music became marred in obscurity until only recently. Why Willie Mae Thornton Matters, the first biography about the singer published in the U.S., reclaims the cultural impact of "Big Mama" as one of the most prominent Black women in contemporary music history.

On Wednesday evening, April 10th, from 6:30 to 8, author and DJ scholar Lynnée Denise joins Dr. Mark Anthony Neal for a live, in-person discussion about her much-lauded debut book in the third installment of "Left of Black Presents: Small Talk at FHI."

This public event will take place at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) at Duke University. The first 30 attendees will receive copies of Denise's book.

"Left of Black Presents: Small Talk at FHI," is a new event sub-series inspired by the legendary jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron's first album, Small Talk at 125th and Lenox. It is an attempt to recreate the same type of intimacy ever present in Scott-Heron's groundbreaking work. Named after famed African American historian John Hope Franklin, the FHI became the institutional home of the web series in 2019 during its 10th season.


This event is co-sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University, the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke, and the Duke Department of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies.

Contact: FHI