Meet the only black female student in the entire Cambridge music faculty

Her diss is called ‘Amanda Aldridge: The Black Woman That Music Forgot’


Iona MacPherson, the only black female student in the entire Cambridge University’s music faculty, went big last week when she posted her dissertation submission picture to Twitter.

Iona’s 8,000 words diss, titled ‘Amanda Aldridge: The Black Woman That Music Forgot’ explores the role of the British composer in music and the need for more diversification of black women in music.

She told The Tab: “In music, you learn a lot about white men and I have basically never learned about a black woman in the whole of my degree.

“The aim was to show that black women have existed in music for a long time in the UK. An erasure of this history is the reason that a lot of academics do not really believe that there is a history there for us; or that we have been involved in the history of music at all.”

Calls on decolonising the British curriculum has been addressed more recently with petitions calling for schools and universities to begin plans aiming to tackle this issue. 

Iona said the Cambridge music department is far behind on this- change should start from trying not to push “the idea that white people are the only ones in the music world.”

She added:Cambridge really needs to look at who they are teaching about. There have been black people in music since the 15th century, and we are never told about any of them.

“They need to include black composers, talk about black music in a classical sense, and when it comes to hip hop and rap. They need to address the political and social implications of the time when these people were creating music. Someone just needs to do the research and get the information out there, and people will listen.”

Iona also called out many Cambridge music students for being performative in their approach to the Black Lives Matter movement without actually being proactive on the issue; she also spoke out about how she was treated, ignored or sidelined most of the time.

“There were moments in supervision where I would find myself being talked over by white boys, and the supervisor had to get them to stop speaking over me and let me speak.

“A lot of the time it was on topics surrounding race or gender and they had to tell them to allow the only black woman in the room to talk about this.”

Her viral tweet, which accumulated over 35,000 likes and 3,000 retweets, led to the people cited in her dissertation following her and to many other opportunities. 

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