Janie Cole

Janie ColeJanie Cole PhD is a musicologist and oral historian with specialty research areas in 20th-century South African music, protest and prison resistance during the anti-apartheid struggle; in Italian music, poetry, theatrical spectacle and cultural history of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods; and in musical culture in the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia and transcultural exchanges with Latin Europe in the early modern era. Other research interests also focus on queenship in early modern France, notably Maria de’ Medici’s  patronage of musical spectacle. She is the author of two scholarly books, A Muse of Music in Early Baroque Florence: the Poetry of Michelangelo Buonarroti il Giovane (Florence: Olschki, 2007) and Music, Spectacle and Cultural Brokerage in Early Modern Italy: Michelangelo Buonarroti il Giovane, 2 vols. (Olschki, 2011), as well as numerous articles in journals and book chapters related to her specialties.

Dr. Cole was awarded her doctorate jointly in Music and Italian from the University of London (Royal Holloway College, 2000) and subsequently worked as a junior specialist in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department at Christie’s New York (2000-02). She has been granted fellowships from The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti (2005-06), the Newberry Library (2008), the Medici Archive Project (2002-05), won research grants from The Getty Foundation, The Leverhulme Trust and The Italian Cultural Institute, and been awarded the Stephen Arlen Award from English National Opera, the Janet Levy Prize from the American Musicological Society and the Author Grant Award from the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors Association of South Africa. She has served on the Renaissance Society of America Council as Discipline Representative in Music and on the Editorial Advisory Board of Renaissance Quarterly (2015-17).

Dr. Cole is currently a Visiting Professor at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for African Studies and the South African College of Music and is a Research Associate on UCT’s Mellon-funded research “Re-centring AfroAsia: Musical and Human Migrations in the Pre-Colonial Period 700-1500 AD,” with a project on musical culture at the Ethiopian royal court in the Christian kingdom during 14th-17th centuries. She is also writing a book about music, resistance and race relations in the apartheid prisons, including Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years), is head of research/executive producer for a documentary film in production by Music Beyond Borders and award-winning filmmaker Lindy Wilson on the same subject, and is building a digital archive of oral testimonies and music from the apartheid prisons in collaboration with Michigan State University’s Matrix Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. She is the founder and executive director of Music Beyond Borders, see