Jake Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Musicology at the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. His research focuses primarily on twentieth-century American music, and he most recently has been investigating the place musical theatre holds within communities far removed from Times Square. His first book, A Theology of Voice: Mormons, the Musical Stage, and Belonging in America (under advance contract, University of Illinois Press), considers the practice of speaking on behalf of another person and suggests that one way to study this vocal phenomenon is by examining how Mormons frame their religious identity by, and perform a unique theology through, conventions of American musical theatre.
Jake is preparing another book project, a biography of renowned Los Angeles music patron Betty Freeman. This book project situates Freeman’s patronage within theories of performance studies and sound studies to explore how female patrons have used salon culture to perform a gendered identity as nurturer and mother to the artists they financially support. Other research interests include vocal pedagogy in early repertories; aging in American musical theater; the accompanist/coach throughout opera history; and the relationship between instrument design, new tonalities, and religious fervor.
Jake’s research has been published in a variety of disciplinary settings, including American Music, Journal of the Society for American Music, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Twentieth-Century Music, Tempo, Elliott Carter Studies Online, and Echo: A Music-Centered Journal.


B.M., Oklahoma City University
M.M., University of Oklahoma
PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

Other Publications

A Theology of Voice: Mormons, the Musical Stage, and Belonging in America (under advance contract, University of Illinois Press)
Refereed Journal Articles
“The Music Room: Betty Freeman’s Musical Soirees.” Twentieth-Century Music (forthcoming).
“Calling Out the Nameless: CocoRosie’s Posthuman Sound World.” Journal of Popular Music Studies Vol. 29, Issue 3 (September 2017).
“‘That’s Where They Knew Me When’: The Oklahoma Senior Follies and the Narrative of Decline.” American Music Vol. 34, No. 2 (Summer 2016): 243-262.
“Elliott Carter in Los Angeles, January 12, 1994.” Elliott Carter Studies Online Vol. 1 (2016).
“Mormons, Musical Theater, and the Public Arena of Doubt.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Vol. 48, No. 2 (Winter 2015): 89-114.
“‘Unstuck in Time’: Harry Partch’s Bi-located Life.” Journal of the Society for American Music Vol. 9, No. 2 (May 2015): 163-177.
“Two Studies of Harry Partch: Conversations with Danlee Mitchell and Betty Freeman.” Echo: A Music-Centered Journal (Fall 2014).
“Performing the Patron: Betty Freeman and the Avant-Garde.” Tempo Vol. 68, Issue 269 (July 2014): 42-49.
Book Chapters
“Building the Broadway Voice.” In The Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies, ed. Nina Eidsheim and Katherine Meizel (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
“Post-Secular Musicals in a Post-Truth World.” In The Routledge Companion to the American Stage Musical: 1970 and Beyond, ed. Elizabeth Wollman and Jessica Sternfeld (forthcoming).
Other Publications
“The Miracle of ‘Mass’: Musings on an Oklahoma City Production of Leonard Bernstein’s Crisis of Faith.” This Land, Issue 102 (Fall 2015).
Book Reviews
Review of The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word, by Marian Wilson Kimber (University of Illinois Press, 2017). American Music (forthcoming).
Review of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography, by Michael Hicks (University of Illinois Press, 2015). Notes (March 2016): 522-524.
Review of Harry Partch: Hobo Composer, by S. Andrew Granade (University of Rochester Press, 2014). Notes (December 2015): 353-355.


Hamilton and Musical Theatre’s Hip Hop Aesthetic.” Journal of the Society for American Music (under review).
“A Universe of Sounds: In Conversation with Pierre Boulez and John Chowning.” Musical Quarterly (under review).

Musical Theatre, U.S.A.: Mapping an Everyday, Everywhere Genre (in preparation)
This book examines the role musical theatre plays in communities far removed from Times Square, and advocates “re-place-ing” the American musical from its almost exclusive center in New York City. Case studies will include: relationships between religious fundamentalism and the musical stage, regional theater and age, Midwestern musical theatre training facilities, and musicals in/as political extremism in Middle America.
Betty Freeman: An Exhibited Life (in preparation)
This full-length biography of the venerated Los Angeles patron of new music, Betty Freeman, sees Freeman’s brand of patronage as creating a space for gendered theater–an extension of “interaction rituals” provided by salon culture during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I also situate her patronage within theories of sound studies, performance studies, and urban studies to explore the broader development of the avant-garde in Los Angeles.

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

“American Musical Theater and Mormon Integration.” Annual Conference for the Society for American Music. Kansas City, MO. February 28-March 4, 2018.
“A Deplorable Inheritance?: White Supremacy, Post-Truth, and American Musical Theatre.” IASPM-US 2018 Conference. Nashville, TN. March 8-11, 2018.

Jake Johnson

Profile picture of Jake Johnson


active 4 months, 1 week ago