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Graul Chair in Arts and Languages

Dayton Funk Symposium

This symposium brings together scholars, teachers, students and performing artists to explore and experience the innovative African American Funk music movement that put Dayton, Ohio on the map in the 1970s and 1980s, leading to its identification as the World Capitol of Funk. 

The Second Dayton Funk Symposium, April 15-17, 2021

The Graul Chair's 2nd Dayton Funk Music Symposium is slated for April 15-17, 2021 at Curran Place. The symposium is made possible in part by a Culture Works special project grant. Details about the three days of events are forthcoming.

NOTE: Originally slated for September 2020, the symposium was postponed due to public health measures the University has taken to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Learn more about Culture Works >

The First Dayton Funk Symposium, September 12, 2019

2019 Events:

The Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center Guided Tours

9:00 - 11:30 am
The 20 passenger shuttle departs every half hour. The tour is approximately 1 hour. 
Pick up location is the east side of Raymond L. Fitz Hall. 

registration for guided tours is now closed.

For more information on the museum please visit
Tours are free, but donations to the museum are appreciated.

Introductory Roundtable: Looking Back at Funk History in Dayton

Moderator: Dr. Todd Uhlman, Assistant Professor of History, University of Dayton
Participants: Ericka Blount, Keith Harrison and Clarence Willis
2:30 - 3:30 pm, Sears Recital Hall, Jesse Philips Humanities Center

Scotland Connects with American Funk and Dayton, Ohio

Jesse Rae, The Funk Ambassador to Scotland
3:30 - 4:15 pm, Sears Recital Hall, Jesse Philips Humanities Center

The Sounds of Black America: Funk and Dayton, Ohio

Dr. Matthew Valnes, Duke University
4:15 - 4:45 pm, Sears Recital Hall, Jesse Philips Humanities Center

Keynote Address
Dayton Ohio: Toward a Funk Paradigm of Knowledge Production

Dr. Scot Brown, Associate Professor of African American Studies, UCLA
7:00 – 9:30 pm, Sears Recital Hall, Jesse Philips Humanities Center

Thursday, September 13
Gather at 8:30 am

Kennedy Union Torch Lounge 

Dayton Funk Music: Visually Speaking

Willis Bing Davis, Shango: Center for the Study of African American Art and Culture
9:00 - 9:45 am, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

The Land of Funk: Dayton's Stone Street Mural

Morris Howard, Artist and Brittini Long, Project Manager
9:45 - 10:10 am, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

Ride On to the Tree of Life: The History, Music and Influence of Skip "Little Axe" McDonald"

Dr. Matthew Donahue, Bowling Green State University
10:10 - 10:40 am, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

Funky Comedy: That Funky Tramp in a Nite Club (1967) and Funk's Origins and Investments

Dr. David McCarthy, Central Michigan University
10:50 - 11:20 am, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

Detroit's Lost Soul: Erasing the African American Voice in the Aftermath of Motown

Christian Matijas-Mecca, University of Michigan
11:20 - 11:50 am, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

How C.C. Got Down: The Case for Go-Go and How Funk Thrived Past the 1970's in Washington, D.C.

Melissa Weber, Tulane University
11:50 am - 12:20 pm, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

James Brown's "Say It Loud" at 50!

Dr. Frederick "Rickey" Vincent, California College of the Arts
1:20 - 2:00 pm, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

Free Your Mind: Funk Transfigured as Black Cultural Aesthetics

Dr. Tony Bolden, The University of Kansas
2:00 - 2:30 pm, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

Black Music Matters: Jazz, Funk and the Academy

Ed Sarath, University of Michigan
2:30 - 3:15 pm, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

Funk Dance Party

Featuring the male vocal quartet Touch, the Dayton Funk All-Stars Band and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. SOLD OUT!

7:00 – 10:00 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm), Kennedy Union Ballroom

Admission is free, but tickets are required.  

Friday, September 14
Gather at 8:30 am

Kennedy Union Torch Lounge

Closing Roundtable: Reflections on the Symposium

Moderator: Dr. John McCombe, Professor of English, University of Dayton
Participants: Stan "The Man" Brooks, Dr. Scot Brown, Jesse Rae, Dr. Frederick "Rickey" Vincent, David Webb and Joseph Wooten
9:00 - 10:30 am, Kennedy Union Torch Lounge



Select map for a larger view or to download as a PDF.


Additional Information

For more information please email the Graul Chair in Arts and Languages, Dr. Sharon Gratto at or call 937-229-3968.

Additional symposium support provided by the College of Arts and Sciences, Office of the Dean;
the Department of Music through a bequest from the George Zimmerman American Music Fund; the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; and the Department of History.

All events are free and open to the public. Space is limited. Registration is required for the The Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center Guided Tours. Tickets are required for the Funk Dance Party.

Read UD Magazine article about this event >


Graul Chair in Arts and Languages

300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1549