Session Title: She Lives in Music: Reimagining Black Women Preachers’ Sounds of Justice and Freedom Visions

At the age of four, she began playing the violin. From the early years of learning the craft of the violin to 29 years of musical experience, Dr. Melanie R. Hill is a classically-trained Gospel violinist who has performed at the White House under the Obama administration on two occasions, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the NAACP’s Annual Convention, ABHMS’s Biennial Summit, the Apollo Theater in New York, the Staples Center in LA, and other venues. She has been featured as a guest on Showtime at the Apollo, The Quincy Harris Show, Good Day Philadelphia, NBC 10, Philadelphia Style magazine, BET, and TV One. Dr. Melanie has also performed for Ms. Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin and for Pope Francis at the Papal Mass during his historic visit to Philadelphia. Recently, Dr. Hill performed with her violin for Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, at the Inaugural Gathering for the Center for Womanist Leadership and the National Women’s Studies Association conference.

Having received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Spanish from the University of Virginia, a Master’s degree in Literature from George Mason University, and a second Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Hill received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in English Literature with two graduate certificates in Africana Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Dr. Hill’s book-in-progress entitled, “Personified Preaching: Black Feminist Sermonic Practice in Literature and Music” focuses on the ways in which black women preachers in literature, music, and in the space of the pulpit counter social injustices by bringing modes of physical, mental, and spiritual healing through sermon and song. Focusing on the term she coins as “Black Feminist Sermonic Practice,” Dr. Hill closely examines through sermon and song black women preachers, along with African-American writers and black women musicians, in all three realms of discursive practice.

Currently, Dr. Hill is a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Department of English at Rutgers University—New Brunswick, working on her upcoming book project. Dr. Hill remains focused on spreading scholarship along the intersections of literature and music.