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Pamela Z has been a leader in the field of electronic music since the 1980s. Originally trained as a classical singer, she began, early in her career, to seek out new ways of combining her singing with electronics, resulting in a sound and a repertoire that is uniquely tied to her voice. Z’s work has shifted over time; it is constantly evolving and she adapts to emerging technologies. In this video, musicologist Rachael Lansang discusses Pamela Z’s unique contributions to the contemporary musical scene, discussing her approach to voice, technology, and her own identity as a Black woman in a field dominated by men.


Student researchers: Glynnis Gourhan, Bridget Knodel, Tracey Crystal Miller

Video editor: Elly Toyoda

Faculty advisor: Rebecca Cypess

Photos and audio courtesy of Pamela Z



1956: Pamela Z is born

1978: receives a Bachelor of Music degree in voice and music education from the University of Colorado at Boulder

1970s-80s: works as a singer-songwriter

early 1980s: begins experimenting with digital processing tools

1984: moves to San Francisco, where she gains widespread recognition for her contributions to electronic music

1987: first solo album, Pamela Z: Echolocation

1990s-present: dozens of performances, exhibitions, and awards every year, including

  • 2004: Guggenheim Fellowship
  • 2015: Doris Duke Artist Impact Award
  • 2019: Rome Prize Fellow, American Academy in Rome

A complete biography and CV are available at