In the early twentieth century, Black and African American musicians brought jazz to China via the ballrooms and music halls of Shanghai. Musical connections between Chinese and Americans flourished through personal interactions and left an indelible imprint on the global state of jazz and China’s own music history. 

In an interview recorded January 25, 2024, Spelman College Assistant Professor Marketus Presswood discusses the history of people-to-people relations between Chinese and American musicians and the public. 


Marketus Presswood

Dr. Presswood completed his doctorate program at the University of California—Irvine in Modern Chinese History. His transnational research projects interrogate the historical record of socio-cultural interactions between Africa, the African Diaspora and China in the 20th century. He is the writer and director of the documentary Yellow Jazz Black Music that traces the story and influence of African American jazz musicians in Shanghai from the 1920s to the present-day. Dr. Presswood has also contributed to mainstream periodicals like The Atlantic.

Dr. Presswood is an avid believer in the transformative experience of overseas study. In 2005, he founded and operated the first African American-owned study abroad organization focused exclusively on increasing the number of African American students studying overseas. In five years, his organization successfully matriculated dozens of Black students on his China program. In 2021, he was a Leading Edge Fellow with American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Postdoctoral Fellowship working on study abroad equity with a major study abroad institution.

Dr. Presswood is a member of both the National Committee on U.S. China Relations and The China Research Center.