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. Her dissertation, “‘Hood, Prison, Body: Lil Wayne and the Spaces of Gangsta Signification” explores the ways in which America’s most popular hip hop artist conveys and transforms racial and gendered meaning through music, lyric, and image.
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. She currently serves as a scholarly advisor for Rap Genius, and as an advisory committee member for the CounterPulse Performing Diaspora Festival in San Francisco.
Additionally, Sarah is the founding Executive Director of Arts Education International, a nonprofit organization that provides sustainable, community-based arts programs for orphaned and abandoned children in West Africa. 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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