Biography of a Sound — Prince, Place and the Hidden History of the Minneapolis Sound

Seed Grant Semester Awarded
Seed Grant Award Year

"Biography of a Sound" is a multi-format (print and virtual reality) musical and historical geography of Minneapolis and its music scene from the middle part of the 19th century through the late 1980s. Using archival information and field recordings, this project uncovers the social, spatial and musical antecedents of the music Prince made famous.

"Biography of a Sound" uses historical and musical geographic methods to trace these emergent sounds, historicize the city and show the impact social forces and the Black community had on the city’s music scene and ultimately the music of Prince. 

Shabazz and Feisst will present their findings to readers in the form of a single-authored monogram and a three-dimensional immersive virtual world. "Biography of a Sound" tells the story of how migration, city politics, public school curriculum, racial politics, demography, gender, religion, sexuality and a musical savant born and raised in the city’s small Black community gave rise to a form of popular music that put Minneapolis on the map and changed the course of popular music.

Seed Grant Project Director(s)

Rashad Shabazz | Associate Professor | Program of Justice and Criminal Inquiry | School of Social Tranformation

Sabine Feisst | Evelyn Smith Professor | School of Music