Principal Investigator

Dr. Jada Watson is a white settler scholar that lives and works on the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation. Her research and teaching occur on Indigenous lands across Turtle island, and she endeavours to engage and uphold recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission through her commitment to addressing the different forms of colonialism and white supremacist heteropatriarchal structures across culture and history.

Radio played a big role in her musical development – she spent many weekends taping weekly countdowns (often on her parents’ old cassettes – oops! Sorry!), using those recordings to teach herself to play radio hits on piano. This was in the mid-1990s, when songs by women in country and other genres were in higher rotation on radio playlists and better-represented on the charts. Today, she focuses her research on representation on radio programming and popularity charts, evaluating the rate at which songs by women, artists of color, and LGBTQ+ artists are played on country and other formats across the USA and Canada. This serves a larger interest in understanding how genre cultures and communities form and develop, with specific interest in the role of market data in the formation and evolution of genre categories. 

Dr. Watson is an Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities in the School of Information Studies at the University of Ottawa. She is Coordinator of Digital Humanities programming for the Faculty of Arts, including the Digital Humanities Summer Institute: Technologies East. Prior to her nomination to ÉSIS, she was an Adjunct professor in the Faculty of Arts, and taught courses on research methodologies, music and science, and popular music culture in the School of Music, as well as courses in the School of Information Studies and in Digital Humanities.

Her research has appeared in Popular Music & Society, Popular Music History, American Music Perspectives, The Journal of the Society for American Music, American Music, Popular Music, and Music, Sound and the Moving Image. She also has chapters in The Oxford Handbook to Country Music and The Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter. She is co-editor of Whose Country Music? Genre, Identity, and Belonging in Twenty-First Century Country Music Culture, a collection of essays on country music in the twenty-first century with Paula J. Bishop (Cambridge UP).

She is a member of the Informed Opinions community.

uOttawa Media profile (EN and FR)

Ph.D. in Musicology, Université Laval (Québec City, QC), 2015
Master of Information Studies (bilingual), University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON), 2011
M.A., Music (Musicology), University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON), 2008
B.A. Honours with Specialization in Music, Minor in Russian, University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON), 2006
Diploma Music Performance, Cambrian College (Sudbury, ON), 2003


Research Grants

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
As Principal Investigator
  • Insight Grant, “A data-driven history of country music’s geo-cultural origins” ($78,456), April 2018-March 2021
  • Insight Development Grant, “Gender representation in the country music industry, 1944-2016” ($58,870), June 2018-May 2020
As Collaborator
  • Insight Grant, “Christina Rossetti in Music: A Study of the Literary, Musical, Historical and Global Significance of Rossetti’s Poetry in Music-Literary Collaborations,” April 2019-March 2026.
Academic and Professional Development grants (University of Ottawa)
  • Research Grant for conference travel to IASPM-US 2018, April 2018
  • Research Grant for research services, February 2017
  • Research Grant for conference travel to Locations and Dislocations, April 2016


Publications (selected)

Refereed articles

2021. “‘Changer le monde un hit à la fois’ : Programmation et diversité à CKOI.Les Cahiers de la société québécoise de recherche en musique. Special issues of Différences et inégalités de genres dans le milieu de la musique au Québec, 22 (1). 

2022. “Reproducing Inheritance: How the Country Music Association’s Award Criteria Reinforce Industry White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.” American Music Perspectives. Special Issue on Women, Gender, and Music in the Contemporary Media Landscape 1 (2): 136-50.

2020. “Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart and the Curation of Country Music Culture. Journal of Popular Music History, Special Issue on Popular Music Curation 13 (1-2): 168-90.

2019. “Gender on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart, 1996-2016.” Popular Music & Society 42(5): 538-60.

2017. “‘If they blow a hole in the backbone’: Sarah Harmer’s Campaign to Protect the Niagara Escarpment.” MUSICultures, Special Issue on Singers & Songs of Social Protest 44 (2): 81-108.

2016. “‘This is My Prairie’: Corb Lund and the Albertan Fossil Fuel Energy Debate.” American Music 34 (1): 43-86.

2014. “Dixie Chicks’ ‘Lubbock or Leave it’: Negotiating Identity and Place in Country Song.” Journal of the Society for American Music 88 (1): 49-75.

Burns, Lori, and Jada Watson. 2013. “Spectacle and Intimacy in Live Concert Video: Lyrics, Music, Staging, and Film Mediation in P!nk’s Funhouse Tour (2009).” Music, Sound and the Moving Image 7 (1): 103-40.

Watson, Jada, and Lori Burns. 2010. “Resisting Exile and Asserting Musical Voice: The Dixie Chicks are ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’.Popular Music 29 (4): 325-50.

Burns, Lori, and Jada Watson. 2010. “Gendered Perspectives through Word, Image and Sound: Narrative Agency and Embodiment in the Dixie Chicks’ Video ‘Top of the World’.Music, Sound & the Moving Image 4 (2): 3-37. Reprinted in Popular Music and Multi Media, edited by J. McQuinn, 331-366. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing Group, 2011.


Contributions to edited collections

in preparation. “The Market.” In Sound Judgment: The Science and Practice of Valuing Music Performance, edited by George Waddell and Aaron Williamon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Watson, Jada, and Sarah Simpkin. 2023. “Building Community and Collaboration through the Digital Humanities Toolbox Workshops.” Chapter to appear in Digital Humanities Workshops: Lessons Learned, edited by Laura Estill and Jennifer Guiliano. Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities series. New York: Routledge. 

2023. “‘What Are You Gonna Tell Her? (2020)’: Mickey Guyton’s Advocacy and Protest for Equity in Country Music.” Chapter to appear in Analyzing Recorded Music: Collected Perspectives, edited by Mike Alleyne, Lori Burns, and William MoylanNew York: Routledge Press. 

2022. “A Double-Edged Sword: Industry Data and the Construction of Country Music Narratives.” In Whose Country Music? Genre, Identity, and Belonging in Twenty-first Century Country Music, edited by Paula J. Bishop and Jada Watson (55-72). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Project Reviews

Teegerstrom, Carl, and Kayleigh Voss. 2021. “Review: SongData.” Reviews in DH 2(3).