Research in Progress: Popular Music and Heritage

4pm Tuesday 21 March 2017, Large Music Room, 80-82 Bedford Street South

Emma Reekie and Marion Leonard from the Department of Music will deliver short presentations on their current research.


Emma Reekie

Recognising Popular Musicians in the British Honours System

This research paper is building and reworking a project undertaken during a heritage module as part of a Popular Music MA completed here at The University of Liverpool’s Music department. The original project was concerned with the British Honours System’s recognition of popular musicians between the years 1938 and 2012, collating research about those who had been awarded through Ian Inglis’ work on the subject, and personal research through archived newspapers and magazine articles. This project is now being extended to cover the most recent honours list from the beginning of 2017 and has benefitted from a report created by the House of Commons’ Public Administration Select Committee in 2012 which deemed the honours system too opaque resulting in greater transparency through the bi-annual publication of the recipients of the awards and the reasons for bestowing them. There have been 78 popular musicians awarded by the honours system since 1938, and by collating different pieces of information about each recipient, such as age, gender and race, several themes have emerged which beg further research. How does this awarding system reflect the way that music is valued in British society and what does it suggest about the institutions bestowing the award; are there links between the two? Furthermore, what about this research can be applied to awards, as a much neglected area of study, in a more general sense and what more can be learnt by applying these research methods to other awards honouring music?

 Emma-Jayne Reekie is a first year PhD student at The University of Liverpool in the music department. Her current research is focused on the value of popular music and whether or not this is reflected in awards that honour music and musicians. Her previous work has explored the relationship between music and politicians, looking in particular at the use of music in the 2012 American election campaigns and Barack Obama’s relationship with hip-hop throughout his political career.

Marion Leonard

Collection, Interpretation and Encounter: Popular Music in the Museum

This paper will report on work undertaken during my recent research leave towards my current book project. This paper will give a brief outline of some of the concerns of the book before going on to discuss the content of popular music museum exhibitions, considering the significance of these presentations to the process of understanding the social and cultural past. Museum collections can be understood as holdings of materials selected for their social and cultural significance (as defined and filtered by individual museum policies) and ‘held in trust for society’. However, museum exhibitions and displays go beyond simply preserving and conserving these materials. Within the exhibition objects are mediated, interpreted, and presented to the public in ways which recontextualise these materials and make them available for further meaning making by visitors. This paper will consider the significance of these material traces as they are presented to and encountered by visitors. The paper will engage with debates about memory, heritage and cultural value.

Marion Leonard is Senior Lecturer in Music and member of the Institute of Popular Music at the University of Liverpool. She is author of Gender in the Music Industry (Ashgate, 2007) and co-editor of The Beat Goes On (Liverpool University Press, 2010) and Sites of Popular Music Heritage (Routledge, 2014). She was Principle Investigator on an AHRC Beyond Text funded project investigating the collection and representation of popular music in museums, conducted in partnership with National Museums Liverpool and the V&A. She is currently developing this research for a book about popular music and museums.