MSUToday
Published: Jan. 28, 2014

Faculty conversations: 
Ken Prouty

By: Alex Barhorst Residential and Hospitality Services barhors1@rhs.msu.eduContact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu

Both a lover of jazz and a history buff, Ken Prouty said his career is in a groove.

“I literally have the perfect job,” said Prouty, associate professor of musicology and jazz studies. “Being able to indulge my teaching interests and also be attached to a first-rate jazz studies program is hog heaven.”

Prouty specializes in jazz ethnomusicology, the study of jazz’s cultural and social significance in history. He said the genre played a significant role in breaking down segregation in the United States.

“Music is not segregated. It’s the ultimate democratizing effect,” Prouty said. “It continues today. What you hear on the radio or what comes through your iPod goes where it’s going to go, and I think that’s a great thing.”

As a graduate student at the University of North Texas, Prouty performed in the Jazz Reparatory Ensemble, a big band that focuses on historical jazz music. He found the blend of performance and academia suited him, and the rest was history.

“I started reading, I started researching, I started writing papers for conferences…I just kind of fell into it,” Prouty said. “I learned it’s possible to be a great player and a great scholar. And now, I know it sounds cliché, but I couldn’t be happier.”

Ken Prouty, associate professor of musicology and jazz studies, talks about jazz music's impact on history.

Ken Prouty, associate professor of musicology and jazz studies, talks about jazz music's impact on history.

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