Christine Zemla

Chris Zemla

Executive Board Trustee

Vice President

Christine Zemla is a professor of American Studies at Rutgers University. Her research in music history – particularly the history of the blues – began years ago, following a week-long conference held at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, coordinated by JSJBF founding member Bob Santelli. This “best conference ever” inspired her to create the Rutgers course “Race, Roots, Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Rock music, she tells her students, is firmly rooted in blues music. To gain a better understanding of the origins and evolution of blues music, she reminds us, we need to consider the social, political and racial hierarchies of the deep South in the early-to-mid-20th century. She travels yearly to the Mississippi Delta and recently completed a graduate program sponsored by Delta State University in Cleveland, MS, which included classes in the history and geography of the South, as well as the sociology of the blues, and earned her recognition as an “International Blues Scholar.”