Jason King named dean of USC Thornton School of Music

Jason King
Jason King (Photo/Laylah Amatullah Barrayn)

The multihyphenate musician and scholar comes to USC from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Renowned music scholar and musician Jason King has been named dean of the USC Thornton School of Music, effective July 1, USC announced Tuesday.

King currently serves as chair of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. He is the institute’s founding full-time faculty member, and he developed the program alongside Davis, the famed music impresario.

“Dr. Jason King’s talents — coupled with USC Thornton’s incredible students, faculty and staff — will be a dynamic formula to expand musical education at this exceptional 139-year-old school known for enriching the arts and humanity,” USC President Carol L. Folt said.

Elizabeth Graddy, USC’s interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, agreed. “We are excited that Dr. King will be able to leverage his strong network and interdisciplinary experience of performance, teaching, production, research and business acumen to benefit the Thornton School of Music community,” she said.

King’s musical interests and accomplishments span multiple genres, including classical, pop, R&B, gospel, jazz, rock and other styles.

As a scholar and public intellectual with a doctorate from NYU, King has created multidisciplinary work in the fields of African American and African Diasporic cultural studies; performance studies, globalization and transnationalism studies; media and technology studies; music business, marketing and branding studies; and gender and queer studies.

New USC Thornton dean has long history as scholar and journalist

An inaugural member of the Hip Hop Culture Council at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Black Genius Brain Trust, King serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Popular Music Studies. He brings a long history of publications as a scholar and a journalist, and extensive experience working with internationally known media outlets on series, podcasts and documentaries.

“I think of myself as an institution builder: somebody who can identify an opportunity and build a structure and institution around that opportunity,” King said. “I see an opportunity with USC Thornton to take an already legendary school and help shape its 21st-century vision of what a music school can be.

“From all the meetings I had — with President Folt, with the students, with the staff, with the faculty — I felt an overwhelming sense of exuberance and commitment to excellence,” he added. “USC Thornton felt like a place of great love — a place that wasn’t just a school, but a place that people felt was a kind of home.”

Read more about Jason’s story