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Scott Swan

Adjunct Professor, Musicology, History

Scott Swan talking to an accordion player


Contact: (904) 620-2961 


Scott Swan’s multidisciplinary life reflects his interdisciplinary experiences in both academia and in music. Growing up in rural Maine in the 1960s and 1970s in a family of lumberjacks, Scott developed an early appreciation for the unifying expressive elements of everyday life among local peoples and groups. His musical roots extend back to his youth in western Maine, where - in the mid-to late 1970s, he studied the local folk music traditions of Maine, as well as the larger regional musics of New England, the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and Quebec. He expressed this interest as a folk guitarist/singer at regional music festivals throughout New England, performing with artists such as Pete Seeger, Noel Paul Stookey, Arlo Guthrie, and Dave Mallet. 

Throughout the 1980s, as a member of the USAF, Scott was assigned to the National Security Agency, where he worked as a linguist and translator in various Southeast Asian languages. During that period, he traveled extensively and intensively in central and northern Thailand, studying and recording the local music practices of different ethnic groups. He also continued to perform at folk music festivals in Maryland and Virgina, and he expanded his study of different musical genres including Jazz and various genres of guitar finger styles, culminating in studying and working with the late Danny Gatton. 

At the University of Florida, Scott earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, focusing on Bio-Archaeology and Biological Anthropology. He was the first-chair guitarist for the University of Florida Jazz Band and had the opportunity to greatly expand his understanding of Jazz improvisation through individual lessons with trumpeter and (then) band director Gary Langford. It was in Gainesville that he met and began performing with the Soul and Funk artist Lavell Kamma, who would later become the subject of his Master’s thesis at Florida State University. He also worked as an “on-call” guitarist for local performances by the late Rock & Roll pioneer Bo Diddley, who lived in nearby Archer Florida. 

Scott followed up on his interest in Jazz with post-Bac studies at the University of North Florida, working with both Jack Peterson and Barry Greene. In addition, he studied privately with local Jazz guitarist Gary Starling. Scott continued performing with Lavell Kamma, through whom he was inspired to study the history of Southern Soul music, as well as other genres of African American music. Scott’s research resulted in his Master’s thesis, which – through the lens of Lavell Kamma’s life story - chronicles the role and influence of African American music in the transition from segregation to desegregation. He earned his Master’s in Anthropology from Florida State University (FSU) in 2003.

From 2003 – 2010, Scott taught various Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes in the Social Studies Department at the nationally-ranked Stanton College Preparatory High School in Jacksonville, Florida, all the while continuing to perform throughout the Southeastern US with the Lavell Kamma Band until 2007. He left teaching in 2010 and - in 2011 - he began doctoral studies in Ethnomusicology at Florida State University. Currently a PhD candidate at FSU, Scott recently completed two years of field research in the foothills of the Pyrenees of southern France, where he lived and worked with various local vocal groups who perform multipart polyphonic music in French, Occitan, and Catalan. While in France, he continued to perform as a busker – or street performer- at local markets and festivals, meeting and playing with musicians from across Europe, as well as from North and West Africa.