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Max Jefferson

Musicologist Max Jefferson (she/hers) centers her research around the agency and representation of Black bodies in American art music of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Her masters thesis, “American Pseudo-Realism: The Subversion of Black Agency in George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess,” interrogates the 1935 opening productions of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess not as musical art but as propaganda. She is currently continuing her archival work in pursuit of reparation and equity for marginalized bodies and voices in the dominant historical narrative.

As a singer, Jefferson first performed on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera as a member of the Children’s Chorus in 1999. This opportunity inspired her to pursue a career in opera, which led to a degree in vocal performance from Westminster Choir College and an 18 year career in both choral and operatic performance. This experience, while rich in artistic fulfillment, in part inspired Jefferson to look to both the present and past, questioning the traditional lot of people of color such as herself and working fervently for a more equitable future in scholarship, performance, and education.


Westminster Choir College (B.M in Voice Performance) – 2014

Yale University (Post-Baccalaureate Studies in Music) – 2018

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (M.M. in Music: Musicology) – 2021