Robert O’Meally is the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and founder and former director of the Center for Jazz Studies. His major interests are American literature, music, and painting.
He has written extensively on Ralph Ellison, including The Craft of Ralph Ellison (Harvard, 1980), and a collection of papers for which he served as editor, New Essays on Invisible Man (Cambridge, 1989). Professor O’Meally has written a biography of Billie Holiday entitled Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday (Little, Brown, 1989) and a documentary on Holiday (which has been shown on public TV). He also is the author of The Jazz Singers (Smithsonian, 1997) and principal writer of the monograph, Seeing Jazz (Smithsonian, 1997).
His production of the recording The Jazz Singers was nominated for a Grammy Award. His Holiday book and his liner notes for Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington collections won Ralph Gleason Awards. O’Meally’s new book is Romare Bearden: Black Odyssey–A Search for Home, catalogue for a show opening this fall at D.C. Moore Gallery on Fifth Avenue. His new project is a full study of Bearden’s uses of literary subjects.