Emily Williams

Emily Williams
Cohort Year: 2020
Research Interests: Disability and Deaf Studies, Applied Ethnomusicology, Participatory Music, American Fiddle Musics
Education: BM, Stephen F Austin State University; MM, University of Tennessee Knoxville


Emily Williams is a PhD student in Ethnomusicology. Her current research interests include disability and deaf studies, applied ethnomusicology, participatory music, perception, and American fiddle musics. Her masters thesis analyzed the dynamics of accommodation for disability within bluegrass and old time jam sessions in East Tennessee. She has presented her research at the Society of Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting in 2019 and 2020, as well as the 2020 International Bluegrass Music Association Virtual World of Bluegrass.

As a performing musician, she has performed extensively as a classical violinist and fiddler, with performances taking her to Carnegie Hall, the Grand Old Opry, the Bluegrass Underground, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. In addition, Emily has enjoyed broadening her perspectives through performing with the Sawt Al-Wadi Middle East Ensemble and the University of Tennessee Balinese Gamelan Ensemble. 

Emily is also passionate about sharing knowledge through education. While in her undergraduate studies, she founded the Piney Woods Fiddlers—a community ensemble for local students—that provided both cultural and performative understanding of multiple genres of fiddle musics. Emily teaches private violin, fiddle, and piano lessons; she has also coached traditional Appalachian clogging.

Prior to her studies at UChicago, Emily attended Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX, with a Bachelor of Music, with a concentration in music education. She then received her Master of Music from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2020.