In recent years, considerable scholarly attention has been paid to women in music, and information on the music of a handful of black women composers, such as Florence Price and Mary Lou Williams, has been published. Determined search, however, is needed to locate what little data is available on most such composers. Proceeding from a desire to use music of black women composers in her piano performance and teaching, Helen Walker-Hill has dedicated herself to uncovering this material, utilizing secondary sources and numerous archives, conducting interviews with composers, and engaging in voluminous correspondence with individuals and institutions. The result is the most comprehensive catalog of music composed by African American women to date. The depth of detail required limiting the scope to solo and ensemble piano music. However, an introductory overview on the contributions of black women in music and biographical sketches on the fifty-four composers profiled in the catalog contain broader information.
Over 300 piano works are listed, with detailed descriptive information on close to 200 works the author was able to obtain and study, including sources and levels of difficulty. Appendixes list available published music, ensemble instrumentation, music for teaching, and music published before 1920. A selected bibliography and a selected discography are also provided. This biographical dictionary and descriptive catalog will be most directly useful to performers and teachers, but the breadth of information makes it valuable for research in music history, African American studies, and women's studies.