About David Metzer

Photo: Joshua McVeity

Photo: Joshua McVeity

David Metzer is a historian of American music and culture. His work covers a variety of musical genres, including popular music, classical, and jazz. He nimbly jumps from Barry Manilow’s power ballads to songs by Aaron Copland. His research explores cultural issues of race, sexuality, gender, and emotional expression. A new project looks at how music created inside and outside of prison has shaped understandings of prison and the men and women there.

He is the author of The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to BeyoncéMusical Modernism at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, and Quotation and Cultural Meaning in Twentieth-Century Music.  The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé is the first history of the ballad in recent popular music and discusses why these songs have become emotional touchstones in our lives and American society. David has published articles in a wide range of music and interdisciplinary journals, including Journal of the American Musicological SocietyPopular MusicModernism/modernity, and Black Music Research Journal.

David welcomes opportunities to share his work with a broad public audience. He has given interviews for CBC television, Salon, HuffPost, and BBC and CBC radio. Audiences have enjoyed his talks on ballads, songs that everyone knows and, as he has found out, everyone has strong opinions about. When discussing ballads, he is both a musicologist and a fan who has been crying over the songs since he was a kid. 

David is a professor and Distinguished University Scholar at the University of British Columbia.