Lynnée Denise was shaped as a DJ by her parent’s record collection. She’s an artist, scholar, and writer whose work reflects on underground cultural movements, the 1980s, migration studies, theories of escape, and electronic music of the African Diaspora. Lynnée Denise coined the phrase ‘DJ Scholarship’ to re-position the role of the DJ from a party purveyor to an archivist, cultural custodian and information specialist of music with critical value. Through interactive workshops, lectures and presentations at universities, conferences and performance venues, Lynnée Denise harnesses music as a medium for vital public dialogue on how to transform the way that music of the Black Atlantic is understood in its social context and beyond entertainment.

Lynnée Denise’s work on DJ Scholarship has been featured at prestigious institutions such as the Broad Museum, the Tate Modern, Savvy Contemporary Gallery Berlin, Goldsmiths University of London, Iziko South African Museum, Stanford, Yale, NYU, and Princeton University. Her writing has been featured in the Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Black Scholar JournalThe Journal of Popular Music Studies, and as part of anthologies including Women Who Rock, and Outside the XY: Queer Black and Brown Masculinity.

Through global residencies supporting her research and production work, she has focused on Black expatriates in Europe, such as James Baldwin, and on South African music in the post apartheid context. She produced the first and only Michael Jackson conference (After the Last Dance) with The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The School of Prince with the Los Angeles Public Library, and Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace: From Detroit to Watts, the first conference dedicated solely to the musical life of The Queen of Soul with the UCLA African-American Studies Department.

DJ Lynnée Denise is a product of the Historically Black Fisk University with a MA from the historically radical San Francisco State University Ethnic Studies department. In 2019, she was granted an MFA degree in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the University of California Riverside.  With support from the Jerome Foundation Travel Grant, The Astrae Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Idea Capital, Residency BiljmAIR (Netherlands) and The Rauschenberg Artists as Activists Grant, she has been able to resource her performative research on a local, national and global level. Beyond the dance floor, her work provides "Entertainment with a Thesis." She’s was a lecturer at California State University’s Pan African Studies Department and the Chicano Studies Department for four academic years 2015-2019. Lynnée Denise will join the UCLA Department of African American Studies as a lecturer in the fall of 2019 and she’s been invited to serve as a Visiting Artist at Stanford University’s Institute of Diversity in the Arts. Her current book project, Why Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton Matters will be published in 2020 by The University of Texas Press.

Donate to help cultural workers serve our communities

Entertainment with a Thesis