Dr. Sarah Lappas is an ethnomusicologist specializing in musics of the African Diaspora, with a particular interest in global hip hop movements. She has conducted fieldwork in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Trinidad, and New Orleans. She currently teaches Music 9 (Music in World Cultures), Music 119B (World Music: Africa), and Music 118D (Hip-Hop in Urban America), an original hip-hop survey course she designed for Sacramento State in 2014. She has also designed and taught hip-hop courses at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently serving as a UC Chancellor's Public Scholar at UC Berkeley, where she directs a community engaged scholarship program bringing UC Berkeley students together with the youth and staff at RYSE Richmond
to study and perform hip-hop.
Dr. Lappas earned her PhD in ethnomusicology in 2013 at the University of California, Davis, where she designed and taught original courses in American and African American music history. She received the 2013 Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award. Her dissertation, “‘Hood, Prison, Body: Lil Wayne and the Spaces of Gangsta Signification” explores the ways in which one of America’s most popular hip hop artists conveys and transforms racial and gendered meaning through music, lyric, and image.
Additionally, Sarah is the founding Executive Director of Arts Education International, a nonprofit organization that provided sustainable, community-based arts programs for orphaned and abandoned children in West Africa from 2006-2014. She has received multi-year Compton Foundation awards for her work in Sierra Leone and was recognized as one of thirteen top social entrepreneurs under 25 in 2011 by Do Something.
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