Mark Katz holds degrees from the College of William and Mary (B.A. in philosophy) and the University of Michigan (M.A., Ph.D. in musicology). Before joining the faculty at UNC, he taught at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University (1999–2006). His scholarship focuses on music and technology, hip hop, cultural diplomacy, and the violin. He has written four books, Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music (2004, rev. ed. 2010), The Violin: A Research and Information Guide (2006), Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ(2012), and Build: The Power of Hip Hop Diplomacy in a Divided World (2019). He co-edited (with Timothy Taylor and Tony Grajeda) the collection Music, Sound, and Technology in America (2012). He is former editor of the Journal of the Society for American Music and served for many years on the National Recording Preservation Board. Katz has served on the Boards of Directors of the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music. He is a former chair of the Department of Music and former Director of UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities.
Professor Katz teaches courses on music and technology, popular music, and cultural diplomacy. In 2011 he received an Innovation Grant from UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities to expand the scope and reach of university-level music pedagogy. One result of this grant was the creation of several new courses, including The Art and Culture of the DJ, Beat Making Lab, Rap Lab, and Rock Lab. Aimed at students without formal musical training, these courses introduce students to composition, performance, music history, entrepreneurship, and community engagement. in 2019, Katz launched the Carolina Hip Hop Institute, an intensive summer course.
In 2013, Katz became the founding Director of Next Level, a U.S. Department of State–funded program that sends U.S. hip hop artists abroad to foster cultural exchange, conflict transformation, and entrepreneurship. Until 2019, when Katz stepped down as Director, the program conducted workshops in 30 countries on six continents, and generated more than $5 million in grants. His work in promoting the arts and music education in underserved communities has been recognized through awards from the Freedoms Foundation, the Hip-Hop Education Center, and Indy Weekly.
In 2016, Katz was awarded Royal Musical Association’s Dent Medal, which credited him with taking “musicology and hip-hop studies in bold new directions, creating a model of exemplary and ethical scholarship that internationalizes the discipline in productive ways.” In 2017, Katz was awarded UNC’s University Diversity Award for Faculty, recognizing his significant contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus and in the community. As Director of the Institute for Arts and Humanities he helped launch UNC’s Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Group and raised $100,000 in support of it.
Professor Katz speaks frequently on music, cultural diplomacy, conflict transformation, and entrepreneurship to academic and non-academic audiences. He has spoken at universities and other institutions throughout the U.S. and Europe, including invited talks and keynote lectures at the British Library, Brown, Cambridge, Case Western, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Harvard, Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, Oxford, the Sacher Stiftung, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Stanford, Syracuse, and the University of Turku. He addresses non-academic audiences through radio and newspaper interviews, blog posts, web chats, and other public engagements.