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Second Keynote Speaker Announced: Ann Powers at the World of Bob Dylan

Ann Powers is NPR Music’s critic and correspondent. You can read more of her work on The Record blog.

We’re thrilled to announce our second keynote speaker for the World of Bob Dylan. Ann Powers will speak on Saturday afternoon, June 1st at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Tulsa as part of our multi-day event centered on Dylan’s life and work.

Powers is an American writer and pop music critic who currently works as NPR’s music critic and correspondent. She also writes for NPR’s music news blog The Record. Before her time at NPR, Powers served as chief pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times and senior critic at Blender. From 1997 to 2001 Powers was a pop critic at The New York Times. 

Powers is the author of several books including Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America and Piece by Piece, co-authored with Tori Amos. Her latest book, Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music is a sweeping history of popular music in the United States. In Good Booty, Powers examines how popular music shapes fundamental American ideas and beliefs, allowing us to communicate difficult emotions and truths about our most fraught social issues, most notably sex and race.

Powers has written about Bob Dylan throughout her career. Her 2012 piece for The Record entitled “On Bob Dylan And Jonah Lehrer, Two Fabulists” examines Dylan’s penchant for being a magpie, someone who “take[s] from everywhere, but assemble[s] the scraps and shiny things [they’ve] lifted in ways that not only seem inventive, but really do make new meanings.” [NPR]. Her article “Loving Bob Dylan’s Throwaways” looks at some of Dylan’s “hilarious” and “unhinged” songs. She defines a throwaway as “a song that doesn’t belong to the masses, because you can’t sing along with it at a rally; nor can it be claimed by the literature profs.” [NPR]. Powers goes on to argue that Dylan’s throwaways are special because “they’re easier to make into personal treasures.” In “CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK; Dylan Keeps A-Changin,'” written just before Dylan’s 60th birthday, Powers looks at the many tributes, books, and events that have celebrated Dylan’s legacy over the years.

As a key female voice in the world of music criticism, Powers challenges pop mediocrity and “superbly balances smart criticism and theory with the primal humanity behind the thump and grind of America’s homemade soundtrack” (Jason Heller).

Want to hear Ann Powers talk about Dylan, pop music, and more? Join us May 30-June 2 in Tulsa, OK for the World of Bob Dylan. For program details click here. To register for the conference, visit our registration page. To sign up for the monthly newsletter (filled with updates and event highlights), sign up here.

You can also follow the World of Bob Dylan on Facebook to stay updated on speakers and special events.