Ann Powers

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Ann Powers (2007)

Ann Powers (born February 4, 1964) is an American writer and pop music critic. She has written for many music publications, and her work has been widely anthologized.

Early life[edit]

Powers was raised in Seattle, Washington. During elementary school, her first poem was published in Our Lady of Fatima school newspaper. In her teenage years, Powers wrote about music in the now-defunct Seattle music tabloid The Rocket.[1] She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, and a Master of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Powers studied literary theory. She wrote about music, feminism, film, and religion. She became a pop critic of the Los Angeles Times. [2]

Personal life[edit]

Powers is married to rock critic and teacher Eric Weisbard.[3] Her husband is a professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama. They currently live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.[4] They have an adopted daughter.[5]


Powers has been writing about popular music and society since the early 1980s. The author of such books as Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America and coeditor of Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap, she has written for various publications like the New York Times, Blender Magazine, and the Village Voice. Powers has been writing for The Record, NPR's blog about finding, making, buying, sharing and talking about music, since April 2011. She currently writes for NPR Music, and is a contributor for The Los Angeles Times.[3]

A female critic and journalist for a popular, male dominated industry, Powers’ work critiques the perceptions of sex, racial and social minorities in the music industry. She considers herself a "generalist" and critiques music from several genres. In the past she has studied literary theory, been a museum curator and written about topics such as religion, feminism and film.[6][7] After a brief stint at the New York Times in 1992-93, she was an editor for the Village Voice from 1993 until 1996, then returned to the Times as a pop critic from 1997 until 2001. During this time and even into 2003, Powers wrote articles for the NY Times that centered on everything from Rock ‘n’ Roll to Classical music, folk to the Four Tops. Notable articles included, "Jesus was a Loan Shark" in 2003, "When a Rock Star Goes Political" and "Sex, Death and Rock ‘n’ Roll" in 2002, [ "MUSIC: The Year in Classical Music: The Critics’ Choices; A Canadian Bard and a Texas Tenor[8][9][10] From 2001 until May 2005, she was senior curator at the Experience Music Project, an interactive music museum in Seattle. After a brief tenure as Blender magazine's senior critic, in March 2006 she accepted a position as chief pop-music critic at the Los Angeles Times, where she succeeded Robert Hilburn.[11]

Most recently, Powers has been appearing in and writing many blogs and articles for WNYC, New York's flagship public radio stations broadcasting programs from NPR, American Public Media, Public Radio International and the BBC World Service, as well as local programming[12]

In 2014, Powers returned to the EMP as a committee member for the EMP Pop Conference.[13][14] an annual meeting of music writers, artists, scholars and fans. Some highlights of Powers at the conference include speaking at the "Keynote Panel: Can Pop Really Be Transgressive? Poptimism and Its Discontents' and her exhibit on "Britney Spears as Cyborg."[15]


In 2005, Powers co-wrote the book Piece by Piece with musician Tori Amos. The book discusses the role of women in the modern music industry, and features information about composing, touring, performance, and the realities of the music business.

In 2008 Ann Powers wrote a book titled Kate Bush’s The Dreaming published by Bloomsbury Academic. This piece specifically focuses on Kate Bush’s lyrics throughout her album, The Dreaming, which was released in the 1982. Powers uses this piece to deliver the information of the forms of gender experimentation in pop music during the 1980s. Powers also covers the types of hardships that Kate Bush experienced as she was going through her musical career breakthrough.[16]

Powers is currently writing a book to be called 'Rock with me a Steady roll: The Erotic Life of American Music' about "how American music shaped American sex shaped American music".[17]

Other media[edit]

Powers once said in a PBS Frontline interview that "[she] really [doesn’t] think you can pinpoint a moment of purity in popular music where it was divorced from commercial desires and commercial interests."[18]

Powers made an appearance on the film "The Punk Singer"[19] as an interviewee discussing the influence of Kathleen Hanna on Punk music.[20]


Powers was one of the winners of the 42nd Annual ASCAP (2010).[21]


  1. ^ "Why I Write: Ann Powers Reflects on Writing About Rock - National Writing Project". Retrieved 2016-05-10. 
  2. ^ Powers, Ann. "Why I write: Ann Powers". National Writing Project. 
  3. ^ a b Roderick, Kevin. "Critic Ann Powers leaves L.A. Times for NPR". LA Observed. Archived from the original on 20 February 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  4. ^ cobb, mark. "Local Q&A Ann Powers, music critic". Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  5. ^ "Sharing Rebecca". Parenting. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Why I Write: Ann Powers Reflects on Writing About Rock". Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "Pop music critic Ann Powers searches for the language of rock and roll". Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Powers, Ann. "Music: The Year in Classical Music". Ann Powers. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  9. ^ "Ann Powers". Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "The Year in Boxes, From Folk to the Four Tops" in 2001.
  11. ^ Patrick MacDonald, Ann Powers named L.A. Times pop critic, Seattle Times, March 7, 2006
  12. ^ "People - Ann Powers - WNYC". Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Call for Papers: 2014 EMP Pop Conference." (n.d.): n. pag. EMP Museum. Sept. 2013. Web. 21 May 2014. <
  14. ^ "Pop Conference." Pop Conference. Experience Music Project, n.d. Web. 21 May 2014. <
  15. ^ Powers, Ann. "Get ur freak on: music, weirdness, and transgression". emp museum. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  16. ^ Powers, Ann. "Kate Bush's The Dreaming." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2014. <
  17. ^ Powers, Ann. "annkpowers tumblr". tumblr. 
  18. ^ "Interviews - Ann Powers." Frontline. PBS, n.d. Web. 1 June 2014. <
  19. ^ The Punk Singer
  20. ^ "The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna". Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  21. ^ 42nd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards Announced, ASCAP, 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2010-11-08.

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