Open main menu

Rob Bowman (born 1957) is a Canadian Grammy-award-winning professor of ethnomusicology and a music writer.

Formerly the director of York University's Graduate Program in Ethnomusicology & Musicology in Toronto, he has written many liner notes, studies and books on popular music.


Music writingEdit

Specializing in the Stax Records story, his liner notes on the different boxed sets of The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles have been celebrated. His book, Soulsville, U.S.A. - The Story of Stax Records, is considered to be the definitive history of the legendary Memphis-based record label.[1][2]

Bowman won the 1996 Best Album Notes Grammy for his 47,000-word monograph accompanying the 10-CD boxed set of The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975.[3] Bowman has also received 5 Grammy nominations. His fifth nomination came in 2002 for Best Album Notes for the 4-CD box set The Stax Story, which he also co-produced.[4]

Philosophy of teachingEdit

Bowman believes (and incorporates in his lectures) that all music is created equal, and metaphorically, it could be said that musics, in his eyes, need advocacy, just as humans needed (and still need) human rights advocacy. When teaching his university courses, he places the music that is being studied into historical and social contexts and explores issues such as race, class, political economy, gender, and identity. The idea behind this is that rendering all members of each of these groups as equally relevant, would create an open-minded awe to all sonic communication and a necessity to understand its relevance through understanding the art's predecessors. This view is corroborated by his instrument choices, being proficient in both viola da gamba and euphonium.[citation needed]

In popular cultureEdit

Bowman was one of many musical figures to appear in the 2005 Canadian country music mockumentary The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico and in the 2010 documentary on singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, Love Shines.


  1. ^ Bowman, Robert M. J. (June 16, 2003) [1997]. Soulsville, U.S.A.: the story of Stax Records (illustrated, reprint ed.). Music Sales Group. ISBN 978-0-8256-7284-2. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Rob Bowman Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  3. ^ "The Complete Stax / Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975 : Various Artists : Concord Music Group". 2011. Archived from the original on March 15, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  4. ^ "Faculty of Fine Arts". Faculty Records.