Will Boone
Will Boone

Doctoral student Will Boone spent hundreds of hours attending services at Durham’s Faith Assembly Christian Center, experiencing fellowship with members, conducting interviews, and rehearsing and performing with the church band.

Boone was among 41 graduate students to be presented with Impact Awards on April 10  for research that is of exceptional benefit to North Carolina.

Boone characterizes his research methodology as “participation and conversation,” focused on two purposes with an impact on North Carolina.

One, his project shows the extent to which one church is striving to strengthen the African-American community in the state. Among the many interactions he has documented are moments that churchgoers believe spiritually empower the community to be able to achieve their goals in counteracting the harsh realities of youth crime and incarceration.

Two, his research details the practices of music and dance in the kind of local church community that has long been important for the nurturing of Durham’s rich African-American musical heritage. His findings draw attention to how Faith Assembly transforms mass-media-disseminated songs, styles and ideas to give them local resonance.

Boone’s adviser, music professor Joceylyn Neal, said: “His writing leads a reader to stop, reflect and potentially radically alter his or her perception of others. That outcome is the deepest and most significant contribution to the region: work that quite literally builds bridges of understanding.”

Impact Award winners’ research focuses on such diverse issues as helping families in which a parent or caregiver is diagnosed with cancer, bringing healthy fruits and vegetables to underserved areas, and helping to protect the North Carolina coast and its economy.

Read more about College and UNC Impact Award winners.

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