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Thursday, July 16
4pm PT / 7pm ET

Pop Con 2020 in conjunction with The Apollo Theater Education Program Presents

Deconstructing Little Richard

A Free Online Teach-In Event About the Originator, Emancipator and Architect of Rock ‘n Roll

Little Richard, who passed away in May, helped pioneer rock music in the 1950s, riding high on gospel-influenced musicianship and black queer fabulosity. Throughout his seven-decade career, he confronted industry exploitation and racism, and he transformed gender expression in popular culture. Join musicians, scholars, DJs and writers for a free online discussion event about the self-appointed originator, emancipator, and architect of Rock ‘n Roll.


Ian Isiah, recording artist

Nona Hendryx, singer, songwriter, producer

Alisha Lola Jones, assistant professor, Indiana University Bloomington

Jason King, professor, musician, New York University

Uri McMillan, associate professor, UCLA

Madison Moore, artist-scholar, assistant professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

Tavia Nyong’o, professor, Yale University

Zandria Robinson, associate professor, Georgetown University


Enter your email below to register for “Deconstructing Little Richard,” on July 16 at 4pm PT / 7pm ET.

Deconstructing Little Richard panelists

Deconstructing Little Richard panelists

Pop Con 2020 Presents


Listening To Our Youth 

With Music by

JD Samson & Eli Escobar







Listen To Event Playlist ▸

MoPOP | The Residency

Forever Young: Popular Music and Youth Across the Ages

2020 MoPOP Pop Conference

Pop Con 2020 is being reimagined as an online conference, to be held in September 2020, exact dates and times to be announced.

Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle WA


The annual MoPOP Pop Conference, first held in 2002, mixes together ambitious music discourse of every kind to bring academics, critics, musicians, and dedicated fans into a collective conversation.




There is no pop music without youth, and no youth without pop music.

Across multiple generations and eras, "the youth" have been regarded as a troublesome, paradigm-shifting force in both music and politics. Music has been the medium of youthful dissent: from traditionally anti-establishment genres like rock, punk, hip-hop, and metal, to the most “bubblegum” expressions of pop (whose value is often sneered at due to its appeal to broad constituencies of girls, queer people, and people of color). This year's Pop Conference is an exploration and celebration of youth across generations, locations, and disparate contexts; listening with intensity to what is behind the urgent call we’ve heard from multiple artists to remain “forever young.” Who gets to have youth? And whose music gets to represent youth, only to be wistfully remembered later, while other youthful sounds are deemed dangerous or stunted?

Panels, presentations, and programs will dive deep into the theme by asking:

  • How are musical expressions of innocence and experience assigned based on an artist’s race, gender, sexuality, class and nationality?
  • How are different musical genres adopted into anti-institutional, anti-nationalist soundtracks of youthful rebellion across the globe?
  • How are our youthful attachments to music limited to the concept of “going through a phase”?
  • How has technology enabled young people to make and distribute music in unexpected ways?
  • What are some of the locations, venues, and scenes in which youth cultures have been given room to flourish?
  • Why do musicians cling to the notion of youth in an effort to remain relevant?

2020 Program Committee Members

Hanif Abdurraqib (writer and cultural critic), Raquel Gutiérrez (writer, performer), Gerrick Kennedy (Los Angeles Times), Summer Kim Lee (Dartmouth College), Iván Ramos (University of Maryland), Robert Rutherford (Museum of Pop Culture), Doreen St. Felix (The New Yorker), Karen Tongson (University of Southern California), J.D. Samson (musician, NYU Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music), RJ Smith (author), and Oliver Wang (CSU Long Beach).

This event is supported by Critical Minded, an initiative to invest in cultural critics of color cofounded by The Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

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