Stephanie Shonekan

Stephanie Shonekan
Associate Professor, Ethnomusicology
Chair of Black Studies

PhD, Indiana University

311 Gentry

Stephanie Shonekan earned her BA and MA degrees Nigeria from the University of Jos and the University of Ibadan, respectively. She majored in English for her undergraduate degree and continued to focus on English with a concentration in Literature for her Master’s degree. Her MA research drew her into a concentrated study of African American literature and music. Specifically, Dr. Shonekan’s thesis examined the connections between African American poetry and music. Her comparative study examined two pairs of African American artists: Langston Hughes and Louis Armstrong, and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and Miles Davis. With this research, Dr. Shonekan’s interest in the study of black music and creative expression.

After obtaining her Masters degree, Shonekan worked for Arthur Andersen in Lagos, Nigeria for five years, and then decided to return to academia to pursue her interests in literature, music, and black studies. In 1996, she enrolled in the PhD program in Ethnomusicology and Folklore at Indiana University Bloomington and minored in African American Studies. As a PhD student and candidate, she worked first as a graduate assistant and then as Assistant Director of Indiana University’s Archives of African American Music and Culture. In addition, Dr. Shonekan taught as an adjunct professor in various departments at Indiana University’s Bloomington and Gary campuses. In her dissertation, One Life Two Voices: The Examination, Exploration, and Exposition of the Life of Camilla Williams, Soprano, Dr. Shonekan studied issues of voice and identity that emerge when the personalities of two black women from opposite sides of the Atlantic unite in the presentation of a collaborative autobiography. From 2003-2011, Shonekan taught at Columbia College Chicago before moving to the University of Missouri in 2011.

At MU, Shonekan has developed and taught courses that focus on the music and culture of people of African descent, including "Introduction to World Music," "Black Women in Music,"  "Introduction to Ethnomusicology," “Contemporary African Literature and Music,” “Hip Hop: Global Music and Culture,” “Introduction to Soul and Country Music," and "Studies in African Music."  Dr. Shonekan has also presented several papers at international conferences, including the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.

Dr. Shonekan’s own intertwined Nigerian and Trinidadian heritage inspires continued study of music and culture across the African Diaspora. Her research interests include afrobeat, hip hop, black women and life writing, as well as investigating the evolving parallels that exist in the literature and music of Africa and the African Diaspora. Her book The Life of Camilla Williams, African American Classical Singer and Opera Diva was published in 2011 by Edwin Mellen Press.  Her article on the influences of afrobeat maestro Fela Kuti, “Fela’s Foundation,” is published in the Black Music Research Journal (Spring 2009) and her article on Nigerian hip hop, “Sharing Hip Hop Cultures: The Case of Nigerians and African Americans,” is published in American Behavioral Scientist (January 2011). Her new book, Soul, Country and the USA: Race and Identity in American Music Culture will be published in May 2015. 

Dr. Shonekan also wrote and produced the award-winning short film Lioness of Lisabi (2008), which was inspired by the life of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Nigerian women's activist and mother of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.


Shonekan, Stephanie. Soul, Country and the USA: Race and Identity in American Music Culture. Palgrave Macmillan Press. (forthcoming March 2015; in production)

Shonekan, Stephanie. The Life of Camilla Williams, African American Classical Singer and Opera Diva.   Edwin Mellen Press, 2011.


“Nigerian Hip-Hop: Exploring a Black World Hybrid.” In Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World. Edited by Eric Charry. Indiana University Press, September 2012. 147-168.

“The Blueprint:  The Gift and The Curse of American Hip Hop and R&B for Nigeria’s Millennial Youth.”  Journal of Pan African Studies. 6:3. Spring 2013. 181-198.

“Sharing Hip-Hop Cultures: The Case of Nigerians and African Americans.” American Behavioral Scientist.  January 2011. 9-23.

“Fela’s Foundation: Examining the Revolutionary Songs of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and the Abeokuta Market Women's Movement in 1940s Western Nigeria.” Black Music Research Journal. Spring 2009. 127-144.