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Photo of Dayton Funk All-Stars performing at Kennedy Union during 2018 symposium

University of Dayton to host second Dayton Funk Symposium Nov. 3-6

The Dayton Funk Symposium returns to the University of Dayton Nov. 3-6 with a lineup of academic, cultural and community events celebrating the rhythmic groove-based genre that put Dayton on the musical map in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The University’s second symposium again brings scholars, teachers, students and performing artists to the UD campus and city of Dayton to examine the impact and lasting influence of funk music on the global music landscape. In addition to panel discussions and a keynote address, this year’s symposium will include a documentary screening at The Neon theater, a line dance party on campus, and a concert celebrating Dayton’s funk heritage at the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center.  

“The first funk symposium at UD was such a huge success that we were encouraged to organize and host a second one,” said University of Dayton professor of music and Graul Chair in the Arts and Languages Sharon Gratto, who envisioned and launched the inaugural symposium in 2018. “The goal of this symposium is again to forge a connection between Dayton's African American community and the University.”

The symposium starts with a screening of Summer of Soul, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, at The Neon, about the little-known African American Harlem Festival of 1969 overshadowed the same year by the Woodstock Festival in Bethel, New York. “Not Your Average Wedding Reception,” a funk line dance party, will take place 7-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, in the cafeteria of Daniel J. Curran Place, 1700 S. Patterson Blvd., on the UD campus. Local funk DJ Stan “The Man” Brooks will lead a funk line dance instruction session from 7-8 p.m. before providing music for the party. 

At 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, The Dayton Funk All-Stars Band and soloists will join the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra at the Schuster Center to put a symphonic spin on the era’s greatest hits during Dayton Funk: A Tribute To Dayton's Funk Legacy. 

All campus events are free and open to the public, with no registration or tickets required. Tickets to the documentary and the concert can be purchased through The Neon and the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance.

Frederick “Rickey” Vincent, associate professor of diversity studies at California College of the Arts and a lecturer at UC Berkeley and the City College of San Francisco, will deliver the keynote address, Funk and Afrofuturism: The Past, Present, and Future of the Funk, 7:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, in the Meyer Room in Curran Place. Vincent is the author of Funk: The Music, the People and the Rhythm of The One, the first definitive academic text on funk music. 

“Funk has been the dominant element in Black popular music since the 1970s,” Vincent said. “Contemporary jazz artists improvise around the funk, contemporary hip hop is built around the beats and rhythmic structure of the funk, current R&B exists exclusively on the structure of funk, yet it is unstated and rarely recognized or celebrated. Since funk music was established over 50 years ago, it has long been necessary for the academy to explore and acknowledge this phenomenon.”

Other participants include UCLA professor Scot Brown, the 2018 symposium keynote speaker and author of an upcoming book on Dayton funk, James “Diamond” Williams of the Ohio Players; and faculty from UD and the University of Michigan, among others and other institutions.

This year’s symposium is supported by a special projects grant from Culture Works and the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District, and will follow the Oct. 14 designation ceremony of Stone Street in downtown Dayton as “Land of Funk Way.” 

For the full schedule of events, visit the symposium website.


News and Communications Staff