Ambre Dromgoole

2022 Crossroads Research Fellow
Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Provost Faculty Fellow
Cornell University


Ambre Dromgoole is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and a Provost Faculty Fellow at Cornell University. She received her doctorate from Yale University where she matriculated through the Departments of Religious Studies and African American Studies. Ambre’s work centers the composition, perception, and projections of Black sacred soundings across different social contexts, the ways that gender is (re)constituted in these spaces, and the artistic innovation that occurs outside the purview of traditionally recognized social, educational, and ecclesial institutions. She has published and presented this research in a variety of venues including the Journal of Popular Music Studies, the Journal of Ethnomusicology, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Studies Association. Support for her endeavors has been provided by the Ford Foundation, Louisville Institute, and the Crossroads Project, among others. Her book project “There’s a Heaven Somewhere’: Itinerancy, Intimacy, and Performance in the Lives of Gospel Blues Women, 1915-1973” positions the friendships, micro-interactions, and collaborations of an intimate circle of Black women gospel musicians as untilled sites of Black feminist engagement, sociohistorical consideration, and religious analysis.


Crossroads Research Fellow Project

Live Right, Die Right: The Life and Times of Gospel Songwriter, Roxie Ann Moore

My project asks what the combined lived experiences, sonic performances, and working-class consciousness of missionaries turned gospel blues progenitors can reveal about Black cultural hybridity, spirituality, and legibility. My work occurs in the space where Africana religious studies scholarship meets that of Black feminist inquiry. The girls and women I engage constantly find themselves negotiating the spaces where the plain-clothed culture of Black Christian respectability encounters the space of sexual and musical social risk reflected in blues culture and the economy of sex. The former feared being marked as prostitutes, but the latter knew there was no evading those marks in a racist, sexist society; the musicians I track bandy in the borders between. As a project which focuses on the interstice of sound and memory, I am creating a digital sound archive to works as its companion. This sound archive is curated in such a way as to place recorded performances from twentieth century gospel blues women in conversation with textual archival sources and documentary footage. Ultimately, this will be a multimedia representation of the friendships and sonic interactions that occurred between the women I discuss and the musical innovations that emerged from their musical excavations within and without ecclesial spaces. I will also use digital mapping tools to illustrate the stylistic shifts that emerged from these women’s constant itinerancy. In creating this sound archive, I hope to provide a visual presentation of the cultural world and networks that existed amongst twentieth century Black women Sanctified musicians, which can be utilized broadly in classrooms settings and cultural institutions.