Heather Augustyn is a journalist and writing teacher living in Chesterton, Ind., one hour outside of Chicago. The author of Ska: An Oral History, McFarland, 2010, with a foreword by Cedella Marley which was nominated for the ARSC Award for Excellence; Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist, McFarland, 2013, with a foreword by Delfeayo Marsalis; Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation, Rowman & Littlefield, 2013; Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music, Half Pint Press, 2014; Alpha Boys School: Cradle of Jamaican Music, Half Pint Press, 2017; Operation Jump Up: Jamaica's Campaign for a National Sound, Half Pint Press, 2018.
Feature articles on Augustyn’s work have appeared in the Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica Observer, The Onion’s A/V Club, and Caribbean Beat Magazine, among dozens of others. She has been co-host of Radio M on WBEZ-FM, Chicago’s NPR station with Tony Sarabia; spoke on NPR’s Sound Opinions; she appeared twice on “Smile Jamaica” in Kingston, Jamaica on RJR-TV, speaking about her books; she was a featured interview on The Current on Minneapolis NPR with Bill DeVille; and she was interviewed for radio shows in Indiana, Minneapolis, Buenos Aires, Kingston, Toronto, Brussels, and Tampa. She is a great fan of ska, rocksteady, and reggae music and has been invited to lecture at the International Reggae Conference in Kingston, Jamaica three times where she spoke on women in ska and music of Jamaican independence. She has also spoken at the Pop Culture Association Conference and other academic conferences on the connection between ska and hip hop. She was a keynote speaker in Kingston at the Jamaican Music Museum at the Institute of Jamaica in 2016 and she has lectured on ethnomusicology at DePaul University, Indiana University, and Purdue University.
Augustyn is a continuing lecturer in the English department at Purdue University Northwest and she was a correspondent for The Times of Northwest Indiana for 12 years. She is a ska and reggae reviewer for Downbeat Magazine and her work has appeared in such national publications as The Village Voice, The Humanist Magazine, Caribbean Quarterly, and World Watch Magazine. She was the last journalist to interview the late novelist Kurt Vonnegut. The story appeared in In These Times Magazine and was published in the book Kurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, Melville House, 2011. She was a speaker at TEDxCountyLineRoad in November, 2015.
Augustyn received her M.A. in writing from DePaul University and two B.A. degrees in English and philosophy from Bradley University. She resides in Chesterton with her husband Ron and their two boys, Sid and Frank.