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Jesse P. KarlsbergAssociated FacultySenior Digital Scholarship Strategist, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship


  • PhD, Emory University, 2015
  • MFA, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2006
  • BA, Wesleyan University, 2003


Jesse P. Karlsberg’s research and teaching center on American music, digital humanities, and music’s relationship to race, place, religion, and culture. He develops technologies, collections, and editions furthering analysis of musical and textual corpora in cultural context and studies connections between race, place, folklorization, and American music focusing on the vernacular sacred songbooks of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Jesse first taught at Emory as a graduate student in the Institute for the Liberal Arts. He joined the staff of the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship in 2015 and was appointed Associated Faculty in the Department of Music in 2019.

Jesse is editor-in-chief and project director of Sounding Spirit, a National Endowment for the Humanities–funded research lab promoting collaborative engagement with historical sacred American music books through the publication of scholarly editions and thematic research and teaching collections of digitized works. He is product owner of Readux, a platform for teaching and publishing with digitized books. Jesse edited Original Sacred Harp: Centennial Edition (Pitts Theology Library and Sacred Harp Publishing Company, 2015), a facsimile reprint of a 1911 edition of a seminal shape-note tunebook with a new introduction. His articles have been published in American Music, Southern Spaces, and Country Dance + Song. An internationally recognized Sacred Harp singer, teacher, composer, and songbook editor, Jesse is a member of the committee revising The Sacred Harp tunebook and vice president of the non-profit Sacred Harp Publishing Company.



Original Sacred Harp: Centennial Edition (Pitts Theology Library, 2015).

Digital Humanities Projects

Sounding Spirit Digital Library. Digital thematic research collections of vernacular southern sacred music, 1850–1925. Project director.

Readux. Digital platform for reading and annotating digitized works and publishing web-based annotated digital editions. Project director.

Sacred Harp Minutes: A Relational Database. Database and API collecting proceedings from 12,000+ Sacred Harp singings, 1945–present, enhanced with GIS and music information data. Project director.

Major Edited Works

Sounding Spirit: Scholarly Editions from the Southern Sacred Music Diaspora, 1850–1925. Series of digital and print scholarly editions. Editor-in-chief. University of North Carolina Press.

The Sacred Harp. Shape-note tunebook in print since 1844. Revision committee member. Sacred Harp Publishing Company. (In progress.)

Toward a Critically Engaged Digital Practice: American Studies and the Digital Humanities. Special issue of American Quarterly 70, no. 3 (2018). Co-editor.

Journal Articles

The Folk Scholarship Roots and Geopolitical Boundaries of Sacred Harp’s Global Twenty-first Century.” Country Dance + Song 2 (April 2019).

 “Genre Spanning in the ‘Close’ and ‘Dispersed Harmony’ Shape-note Songs of Sidney Whitfield Denson and Orin Adolphus Parris.” American Music 35, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 94–132.

 “Ireland’s First Sacred Harp Convention: ‘To Meet to Part No More.’Southern Spaces (Fall 2011).


“Interinstitutional Thematic Collection Development: Technical and Procedural Considerations from the Sounding Spirit Digital Library.” White paper for the National Endowment for the Humanities, July 2020. (With Erin Fulton.)