About

Jesse P. Karlsberg, in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. Photograph by Jack Kearse.

Jesse P. Karlsberg, PhD, is Senior Digital Scholarship Strategist at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) and associated faculty in the Department of Music at Emory University. His writing and research draw on bibliographic, ethnographic, archival, and music analytical methods, and engage digital and conventional publishing platforms. Jesse develops technologies, collections, and editions furthering analysis of musical and textual corpora in cultural context and studies connections between race, place, folklorization, and American music focusing on the vernacular sacred songbooks of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Jesse is editor-in-chief and project director of Sounding Spirit Collaborative, a National Endowment for the Humanities–funded initiative of ECDS, the University of North Carolina Press, and seven partner archives promoting collaborative engagement with the songbooks that sound America’s musical landscape. He is project director of Readux, a platform for annotating and publishing digital scholarly editions and thematic research collections employed by Sounding Spirit. Jesse edited Original Sacred Harp: Centennial Edition (Pitts Theology Library, 2015), a facsimile reprint of a 1911 edition of The Sacred Harp with a new introduction, and is editor of the forthcoming Sacred Tunes and Hymns (1913): A Scholarly Edition, a digital and print edition of a genre-spanning shape-note tunebook in the Sounding Spirit series (under contract with UNC Press). His book, Fasola Americans: Race, Place, and Sacred Harp Singing, explores how ideas about race and place in American music and folklore scholarship overlaid Sacred Harp singing with associations with specific Black and white southern populations and geographies in the twentieth-century. His 2015 dissertation, “Folklore’s Filter: Race, Place, and Sacred Harp Singing,” was profiled in the New York Times and earned the first ever honorable mention for the Society of American Music’s Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award.

Jesse teaches innovative courses on American music, sacred music, and digital methods in music scholarship. Jesse serves as consulting editor of the journal Southern Spaces and editorial board member and past managing editor of the journal Atlanta Studies. An internationally recognized Sacred Harp singer, teacher, composer, and songbook editor, Jesse is a member of the committee revising The Sacred Harp tunebook, vice president of the non-profit Sacred Harp Publishing Company, editor of the organization’s Shape Notes Journal, and research director of the Sacred Harp Museum.