Mari Jo Velasco received her Ph.D. in Music History and Theory from the University of Chicago and holds Masters degrees in Musicology from the Université de Rennes II and in Human Rights Law from the Université Lumière, Lyon II, France. Her B.A. is in both History and Music-Humanities from the University of California, San Diego. Most recently, she was a Humanities Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago where she taught courses in music history and media aesthetics. She was a recipient of the American Musicological Society’s Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Dissertation fellowship in 2016 and of a Fulbright IIE grant in 2014-2015 to conduct dissertation research in the Basque and Bearnese Pyrénées region of France. She has been a longtime alto voice in the Rockefeller Chapel Choir, and she hopes to continue singing at Princeton.
Her research lies at the border between music history and ethnomusicology, studying the musical and devotional practices of lesser-known regions of France, such as the Basque country. It elucidates how these local musical traditions reinforced the ties between devotional and political culture, which later became an important basis for regionalist discourses. Her critical and research interests include minority languages and cultures within France, oral histories and folk traditions, trans-border identities and exchange, popular devotional music, and musical resistance during the French Revolution. At Princeton, she continues work on her first book project, tentatively titled, “Moving Mountains: Popular Song and Devotional Culture in the Western Pyrénées and the Building of Nations,” which will further explore how these song cultures put pressure on France’s modern centralizing narratives. During her time at Princeton, she will be affiliated with the Department of Music and will teach a course on North American music traditions in fall 2018. She also aims to develop a course on the musical cultures of the French and American Revolutions, utilizing the rich revolutionary song pamphlet collections of Princeton's Firestone Library.