Ann Powers

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Ann Powers
Ann Powers in 2007
Powers in 2007
Born Ann K. Powers
(1964-02-04) February 4, 1964 (age 53)
Seattle, Washington U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater
Occupation Journalist
Years active 1980s-present
Spouse(s) Eric Weisbard
Children 1

Ann K. Powers (born February 4, 1964)[1] is an American writer and pop music critic.[2] She is a music critic for NPR and a contributor at the Los Angeles Times, where she was previously chief pop critic. She has also served as pop critic The New York Times and an editor at The Village Voice. Powers is the author of Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America, a memoir; Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music, on eroticism in American pop music; and Piece by Piece, co-authored with Tori Amos.

Early life[edit]

Powers was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. During elementary school, her first poem was published in Our Lady of Fatima school newspaper.[2]

Powers earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, and a Master of Arts in American Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Powers studied literary theory. She also wrote about music, feminism, film, and religion.[2]


Powers' professional writing career began in 1980[3] while she was still in high school, when she started writing for the Seattle music weekly magazine The Rocket.[4][5]

After college, in 1986, Powers started writing about popular music and pop culture as a columnist at the San Francisco weekly San Francisco Weekly.[3]

After moving to New York City, she wrote for The New York Times from 1992 to 1993, then was an editor at The Village Voice from 1993 to 1996. From 1997 to 2001, Powers was the pop critic The New York Times.[6]

From 2001 until May 2005, Powers was senior curator at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, which later became Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). Since 2002, Powers has been on the program committee and has often curated the keynote sessions of the Pop Conference music conference held annually at MoPOP. She has done this with her husband, music critic Eric Weisbard.[7][8] In 2015, Powers gave a keynote presentation called "Can Pop Really Be Transgressive? Poptimism and Its Discontents" and curated an exhibit on "Britney Spears as Cyborg."[9][10]

After a brief tenure as Blender magazine's senior critic, in March 2006 she accepted a position as chief pop critic at the Los Angeles Times, where she succeeded Robert Hilburn.[11] Powers wrote regularly for Pop & Hiss, the Los Angeles Times' music blog, in addition to other features and news articles. She served in this position until March 2011 when she departed for NPR, though she remained a contributor for The Los Angeles Times.[12][13]

Since 2011, Powers has served as NPR Music's critic and correspondent. Powers has written for The Record, NPR's blog about finding, making, buying, sharing and talking about music, since April 2011.

In 2017, Powers spearheaded a multi-platform project at NPR called Turning the Tables.[14] The project sought to reconstitute the canon of American popular music by publishing a list of the 150 Greatest Albums by Women and a related series of essays, audio features, and events.[15][16]

Powers is also the Nashville correspondent for World Cafe, regularly recording sessions with local and regional Southern musicians.[17]

Powers’ work often critiques the perceptions of sex, racial and social minorities in the music industry. She has written about topics such as religion, feminism and film.[2][18]


Powers co-edited the 1995 anthology, Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap, and was the guest editor of the Da Capo Press Best Music Writing 2010.[19][20] Her work has been anthologized seven times in the Da Capo series.[21][22]

In 2000, Powers published the memoir Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America.[23][24] The book focuses on Powers' time living in Seattle, San Francisco and Brooklyn.[25] In The A.V. Club, Joshua Klein described the project as "us[ing Powers'] personal experiences to define how youth culture (what she calls bohemianism) has changed over the years (though she lingers mostly on the '80s)."[26]

In 2005, Powers co-wrote the book Piece by Piece with musician Tori Amos.[27] 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.[28][29]

Powers wrote a proposal for a book on Kate Bush’s album The Dreaming that was slated to be published in 2007 as part of the 33⅓ series; however, the project was abandoned when Powers started her job at the Los Angeles Times, and the book was never written.[30][31][32]

In August 2017, Powers published the book Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music.[33] The book reconsiders the history of American popular music through the lens of sexuality and eroticism. It was positively reviewed, and was chosen as one of the best books of 2017 by The Wall Street Journal, NPR, No Depression and Buzzfeed.[34][35][36][37][38]

Other work[edit]

Powers has appeared in various TV shows and documentaries. She was in the film The Punk Singer as an interviewee discussing the influence of Kathleen Hanna on punk music.[39] She also appeared in the 2005 documentary The Gits and the 2015 documentary Undeniably Donnie.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Powers is married to Eric Weisbard, a music critic and professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama.[12] They moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2009.[12][41][42] They later moved to East Nashville, Tennessee in 2015.[43] They have a daughter.[44]

Honors and awards[edit]

Works and publications[edit]


Selected writing[edit]


  1. ^ Powers, Ann [@annkpowers] (6 January 2018). "I was born right before the Beatles invaded. 02/04/1964. Old and proud" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018 – via Twitter. 
  2. ^ a b c d Powers, Ann (19 October 2011). "Why I Write: Ann Powers Reflects on Writing About Rock". National Writing Project. Archived from the original on 4 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Flanary, Patrick (17 September 2011). "The Hype Machine". p. 18. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  4. ^ Eskenazi, Stuart (28 April 2002). "Cool with it". Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Times. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  5. ^ Cross, Charles R. (30 August 2017). "NPR's Ann Powers talks new book, music, and her Seattle roots". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  6. ^ "Interview: Ann Powers". Frontline. PBS. 27 February 2001. 
  7. ^ Grandy, Eric (16 April 2010). "Last Night in Irony: The EMP Pop Conference "Music+Technology" Keynote Suffers Technical Difficulties". The Stranger. 
  8. ^ Powers, Ann (30 April 2014). "Hear Four Musicians Talk About What Moves Them: Sharon Jones, Mike McCready, Meshell Ndegocello And Alynda Lee Segarra On Stage" (Includes audio of panel discussion). NPR. 
  9. ^ "Pop Conference 2015: Schedule". MoPOP. 2015. 
  10. ^ Powers, Ann (moderator); Garbus, Merrill; June, Valerie; lang, k.d. (17 April 2016). "2016 Pop Conference Key Note. To Sing: The Care and Keeping of the Voice in Music" (Video keynote presentation). Museum of Pop Culture. 
  11. ^ Perry, Clayton (26 April 2011). "Interview: Ann Powers - Chief Pop Music Critic, Los Angeles Times". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  12. ^ a b c Roderick, Kevin (18 February 2011). "Critic Ann Powers leaves L.A. Times for NPR". LA Observed. 
  13. ^ Barker, Andrew (19 February 2011). "Ann Powers ankles LA Times". Variety. 
  14. ^ Schlanger, Talia (25 July 2017). "'Turning the Tables': Behind the List" (Radio broadcast). NPR. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  15. ^ Powers, Ann (24 July 2017). "A new canon: In pop music, women belong at the center of the story". NPR. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  16. ^ "The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women". NPR. 24 July 2017. 
  17. ^ "Nashville Sessions". World Cafe, WXPN. NPR. 
  18. ^ Powers, Ann (19 September 2010). "Pop music critic Ann Powers searches for the language of rock and roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. 
  19. ^ McDonnell, Evelyn; Powers, Ann, eds. (1995). Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap. London: Plexus. ISBN 978-0-859-65233-9. OCLC 35130945. 
  20. ^ Powers, Ann, ed. (2010). Best Music Writing 2010. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81925-4. OCLC 548569629. 
  21. ^ Powers, Ann (2005). "Edelweiss". In LeRoy, J. T. (guest editor); Bresnick, Paul (series editor). Da Capo Best Music Writing 2005: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Pop, Country, & More. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 109–112. ISBN 978-0-306-81446-4. OCLC 938470719. 
  22. ^ Powers, Ann (2006). "Crazy Is as Crazy Does". In Gaitskill, Mary (guest editor); Carr, Daphne (series editor). Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Pop, Country, and More. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 74–78. ISBN 978-0-306-81499-0. OCLC 992226844. 
  23. ^ "Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America by Ann Powers". Kirkus Reviews. 15 December 1999. 
  24. ^ "Weird Like Us: A Bohemian America by Ann Powers". Publishers Weekly. 31 January 2000. 
  25. ^ Hodgman, George (10 March 2000). "Weird Like Us". Entertainment Weekly. 
  26. ^ Klein, Joshua (29 March 2002). "Ann Powers: Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America". The A.V. Club. 
  27. ^ Amos, Tori; Powers, Ann (2005). Tori Amos: Piece by Piece. A Portrait of the Artist: Her Thoughts, Her Conversations. New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 978-0-307-49204-3. OCLC 320322936. 
  28. ^ Joseph, Leslie (1 February 2005). "Tori Amos: Piece by Piece by Tori Amos & Ann Powers". PopMatters. 
  29. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Tori Amos: Piece by Piece". Publishers Weekly. 31 January 2005. 
  30. ^ 333sound (11 March 2006). "33 x 33 1/3". 33⅓. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018. 
  31. ^ Powers, Ann (2010). Kate Bush's the Dreaming (33 1/3. Continuum Intl Pub Group. ISBN 978-0-826-42882-0. OCLC 567246288. 
  32. ^ Powers, Ann [@annkpowers] (6 January 2018). "Hey everyone I never wrote that book. A proposal was accepted but I got busy at my new job (@latimes) and never even started. Could @erikaherzog cite this Tweet? Back me up @333books?" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018 – via Twitter. 
  33. ^ Powers, Ann (2017). Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music. New York: Dey Street, William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-062-46369-2. OCLC 981576251. 
  34. ^ "The Best Fiction and Nonfiction of 2017". The Wall Street Journal. 7 December 2017. 
  35. ^ Kirby, David (11 August 2017). "The True Meaning of 'Tutti Frutti': Pop and rock are about more than sex. They're about bodily freedom and liberating joy. David Kirby reviews 'Good Booty' by Ann Powers". The Wall Street Journal. 
  36. ^ Cohen, Nicole; Friedman, Rose; Mayer, Petra; Weldon, Glen (5 December 2017). "NPR's Book Concierge: Our Guide To 2017's Great Reads". NPR. 
  37. ^ Carrigan, Henry (29 November 2017). "A Few Good Books: The Best Books of 2017". No Depression. 
  38. ^ Rebolini, Arianna (5 December 2017). "The Ultimate BuzzFeed Books Gift Guide". BuzzFeed. 
  39. ^ "The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna". The Punk Singer. 2013. 
  40. ^ "Undeniably Donnie". The Bitter Southerner. 10 October 2015. 
  41. ^ Johnson, Francie (17 April 2014). "NPR journalist finds home in Tuscaloosa". The Crimson White. Archived from the original on 23 April 2014. 
  42. ^ Hughes Cobb, Mark (28 August 2014). "Local Q&A: Ann Powers, music critic". The Tuscaloosa News. 
  43. ^ Gleason, Holly. "Super Powers: How a move to East Nashville invigorated NPR's lead music critic Ann Powers". The East Nashvillian. 
  44. ^ Powers, Ann (19 December 2010). "Sharing Rebecca: A Mother's Story of Her Daughter's Open Adoption". Parenting. 
  45. ^ Powers, Ann (10 March 2009). "YOU BETTER THINK: Why Feminist Cultural Criticism Still Matters in a "Post-Feminist," Peer-to-Peer World" (PDF). The Popular Music Project. USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. 
  46. ^ Powers, Ann (13 December 2009). "Frank talk with Lady Gaga: The pop sensation's bold stances on feminism, sexuality, fame and so much more have helped elevate her music to its own art form". Los Angeles Times. 
  47. ^ Powers, Ann (11 January 2009). "Where music meets religion: What an L.A. Times writer learned spending a night with Prince in 2009". Los Angeles Times. 
  48. ^ SanSaurus, Esther; Steinblatt, Jim (8 November 2010). "42nd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards Announced" (Press release). ASCAP. 

External links[edit]