David Gilbert
Associate Professor of History
Department: History
Office:  Cornwell 317
P.O. Box:  6662
Phone:  (828) 689-1117

*On sabbatical for 2023-24*

David Gilbert (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011) is a social and cultural historian of the United States, with emphasis in African-American history and popular music. His first book manuscript, The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace  (University of North Carolina Press, 2015) won the American Library Association’s Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title (2016). The book explores African-American musicians and stage entertainers in New York City in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century and shows how black entertainers made Broadway Avenue and Tin Pan Alley synonymous with American national culture. The book also became the basis for a long-form album liner notes to the CD companion of the book (Archeophone Records), which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2018. David and his sisters got to attend the Grammy Music Awards that year, but they did not get to meet Beyoncé.

Gilbert teaches both U.S. survey courses and a variety of upper-level classes in American political, social, and cultural history, including courses in African-American history (HIS 350 and 355), a music-heavy I&I one on popular music and black civil rights (HIS 354: “From Motown to 2Pac”) and a class on the “long Civil War” (HIS 413). He has researched Mars Hill’s fascinating histories of African Americans and Jim Crow segregation—even presenting locally about MHU’s own relationship with race and racism and, especially, the “Joe Anderson Myth”—and is working on a book manuscript on the 1970s connections between Nixon, Vietnam, and the funk band, Parliament-Funkadelic.

Selected Publications and Interviews:

“Tale of the Tigers: The 1936 Grand Junction Tigers, One of the Greatest Football Teams in Colorado History,” Mile High Sports, Feb. 2013.

“Interview: David Gilbert on the birth of the Manhattan musical marketplace,” University of North Carolina Press Blog, June 15, 2015. 

“Author David Gilbert challenges racial assumptions in modern music,” Mountain Xpress, Nov. 11, 2015. 

“Who Owns Black Culture?: Racial Appropriation and the Marketplace,” UNC Blog, May 15, 2015. 

“James Reese Europe at the Grammys,” University of North Carolina Press Blog, Feb. 8, 2019. 

“Friday Feature- A Regional Author Helps Get Grammy Nomination, while sharing Music and Black History” [Radio Interview], WNCW, March 1, 2019.

The Encyclopedia of African American Culture (Various entries), Greenwood Press, 2020.

Black Song, Dance, and Theater in pre-World War I New York City,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia [on-line], April 26, 2021.