About Heather Augustyn

Heather Augustyn is a lecturer in the English and World Languages Department at Purdue University Northwest. She is author of seven books on Jamaican music history including 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; and Women in Jamaican Music, McFarland, 2020. Her newest book, Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond will be released in the summer of 2022 by Half Pint Press.

Augustyn is a devoted fan of ska, rocksteady, and reggae music and has been invited to lecture at the International Reggae Conference in Kingston, Jamaica three times. She has also spoken on archiving practices in preservation of Jamaican music history in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, as well as at the Popular Culture Association Conference. She has also presented at academic conferences on the connection between ska and hip hop and spy imagery in ska during the Cold War. 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 donated hundreds of interviews and artifacts from her decades of research in the field of Jamaican music to comprise the Heather Augustyn Collection at the Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University. Two of Augustyn’s books, Alpha Boys’ School and Don Drummond, have been optioned for development into a feature film. She has also served as a writer for the documentary “Pick It Up! Ska in the 90s” by PopMotion Pictures, award winner at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

She has been a guest on the Toure Show as well as numerous other podcasts. She is a frequent co-host and contributor to WBEZ-FM, Chicago’s NPR station; 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 on “Why? Radio” on Prairie Public Radio; and she was interviewed for radio shows in Buenos Aires, Kingston, Toronto, Brussels, and Tampa.

Augustyn is a lecturer in the English and World Languages Department and assistant director of the Writing Center at Purdue University Northwest. Previously she worked as a correspondent for The Times of Northwest Indiana for 12 years. Her work has appeared in such national publications as Wax Poetics, The Village Voice, The Humanist Magazine, Caribbean Quarterly, Jamaica Journal, and World Watch Magazine. Notable interviews include DJ Kool Herc, former Jamaican prime ministers P.J. Patterson and Edward Seaga, and 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 has delivered a TEDx Talk on the importance of recording oral histories, and she directed a Montessori writing program for seven years. Augustyn received her M.A. in writing from DePaul University and two B.A. degrees in English and philosophy from Bradley University.