Expert Source Alert: Center for Black Music Research on the Rise of House Music in Chicago and the Global Role the Late Frankie Knuckles Played

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Columbia College Chicago center devoted to research, preservation and dissemination of information on history of black music globally reflects on house music and leading role of Frankie Knuckles.

The late Frankie Knuckles was known as the Godfather of House Music for his pivotal role of creating the Chicago sound more than 30 years ago. His sudden death on Monday (March 31) has left many music lovers around the world in shock and turning up the sounds of House today in honor of the 59-year old.

Music historian Monica Hairston O’Connell sees Knuckles as a global fixture in pop culture as well as an innovator in the modern music industry. In both roles, he made a mark on generations of people both on and off the dance floor, including many of today’s popular DJs and music industry leaders. He also created a sound in dance music that revolutionized club culture in the 1970s and ‘80s and still is vibrant today across international borders.

O’Connell is executive director of the Center for Black Music Research (CBMR) at Columbia College Chicago, a center devoted to research, preservation and dissemination of information on the history of black music on a global scale and promoting the understanding of the common roots of the music, musicians and composers of the African diaspora.

Based in Chicago, O’Connell is available for interviews. To arrange phone or in-person interviews, contact Steve Kauffman, senior director of public relations, Columbia College Chicago at 312.369.7383 or skauffman(at)colum(dot)edu.

About Monica Hairston O'Connell, Ph.D., Executive Director, CBMR:
Monica Hairston O'Connell holds a doctorate in ethnomusicology from New York University. She received her master’s of music degree. in music literature from the University of Georgia and taught French horn and music history at Morris Brown College. She has also taught on women and music, blues, and jazz history at Ramapo College, Hofstra University, and New York University. She currently serves on the Society for Ethnomusicology Council and is a 2011 Chicago Community Trust fellow.

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts for more than 10,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit

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