Ambre Dromgoole

Post Doctoral Associate


Hailing from Nashville, TN, Ambre Dromgoole is an assistant professor of Africana religions and music in the Africana Studies & Research Center. Her 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 received her B.A. in Religion and Musical Studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory in 2015, her M.A. from Yale Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music in 2017, and her PhD from Yale University in 2023. Dr. Dromgoole’s “Music City” roots reverberate throughout her work.

Her current book project is the first of its kind to document the twentieth century history of itinerant women gospel musicians as a collective, paying particular attention to their musical trainings as girls in Afro- Protestant contexts as well as their formation in the entertainment industry. It asks what the combined lived experiences, sonic performances, and working-class consciousness of missionaries turned gospel blues progenitors can reveal about Black cultural hybridity, legibility, plurality, and music education and practice. The girls and women she engages 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.

This project foregrounds the space where Africana religious studies scholarship meets that of Black feminist inquiry. In investigating the cultural production and contributions of this collective, she claims that the friendships, micro-interactions, and collaborations of an intimate circle of Black women gospel musicians offers a site of critical religious inquiry and Black feminist consideration where people can analyze the moral and intellectual possibilities signified and sustained through their intimate bonds. Research for this project has been supported by the Ford Foundation, Louisville Institute, Center for Lived Religion in the Digital Age at St. Louis University, the Crossroads Project at Princeton University, Sacred Writes at Northeastern University, and the Center for Material and Visual Cultures of Religion at Yale University.

Dr. Dromgoole is also invested in making sure her work is accountable and accessible to the communities that she is a part and that she studies. In so doing, she has been featured as an expert scholar for the PBS series Ritual and in Religion News Service. Her writings can be found in Revealer Magazine and her voice can be heard on Classical Ideas Podcast. Additionally, she has and continues to collaborate with both local and national organizations such as The United Methodist Church: Missouri Conference, Sound Diplomacy and the Center for Music Ecosystems, the National Museum of African American Music, and the Nashville Symphony.