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Arts & Culture

Local Music History on Shuffle

UMD Doctoral Candidate’s Playlist Amplifies County’s Artistic Legacy

By Sala Levin ’10

Collage of Glenn Tipton and Tim Ripper Owens of the band Judas Priest, Duke Ellington, and Gary "Dr. Know" Miller of Bad Brains

“Sounds of Prince George’s,” a playlist on Spotify from doctoral candidate Julia Kuhlman and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, highlights local people and places with roles in popular music history, including Judas Priest, Duke Ellington and Bad Brains.

Judas Priest photo by Tilly Antoine/WikiMedia Commons; Duke Ellington photo by U.S. Army photo; Bad Brains photo by Wikipedia user Malco23; map by Wikipedia user Arkyan; collage by Emma Howells

Duke Ellington, Judas Priest and turn-of-the-millennium pop sensation Mýa may seem like odd company on a playlist, but they’re now part of a new soundtrack to the aural history of Prince George’s County.

Sounds of Prince George’s,” a project from University of Maryland Ph.D. candidate Julia Kuhlman and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, highlights some of the county’s people and places that played a key role in popular music history. Anyone who streams or downloads the playlist through Spotify can follow along on a self-guided tour, hopping from site to site while listening to the songs tied to each spot.

Listeners can blast influential punk band Bad Brains’ song “Banned in D.C.” in front of the Forestville house where they once performed. “In a Sentimental Mood,” by jazz great Ellington, represents 9206 D’Arcy Road in Upper Marlboro, which used to be home to the Evans Grill; the club on the so-called “Chitlin Circuit” of venues safe for Black musicians hosted performances by him as well as Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner, and Ray Charles.

“The social context of music or its circumstances can be really interesting or useful for people to think about as they’re listening to the music,” said Kuhlman, who studies musicology and created the playlist through the university’s Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program. “There’s this whole ecosystem around the arts that people don’t usually think about, and it ends up being pretty interesting.”

She combed through the county’s historical landmarks database, old newspapers, archives and books to learn about Prince George’s County concert venues, local musicians and major historical moments in the county.

Kuhlman “found these little hole-in-the-wall, speakeasy-type places,” said Jonathan Greene, senior planner with M-NCPPC, while also including the history of better-known venues like the former Capital Centre, where thundering rock acts like The Who and Judas Priest played.

As more people listen to the playlist, county planning supervisor Adam Dodgshon hopes they’ll contribute to the collection with new suggestions for songs—perhaps even their own compositions that represent the future of the county.

“It should become something that helps that artist community connect with each other,” Dodgshon said. “It’s about physical connections, but it can also be about artistic connections.”

Schools & Departments:

College of Arts and Humanities

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