Krin Gabbard was born in 1948 in Charleston, Illinois, a small town in the east central regions of the state. He spent his first 18 years in Charleston, the home of Eastern Illinois University, where both his parents taught. His father, Glendon Gabbard, directed plays at the university and taught acting. His mother, Lucina Paquet Gabbard, taught in the English Department and specialized in dramatic literature. In 1985, both parents retired from teaching and worked as professional actors for the rest of their lives. More about Krin Gabbard’s Parents→
At the University of Chicago, Krin read old books and acted in a few plays. It was, of course, the late 1960s, and although he was never arrested for demanding an end to the war in Vietnam, the politics of the day did occasionally distract him from his studies. After graduating with a B.A. from Chicago in 1970, Krin went to Indiana University where he took graduate degrees in Classics and Comparative Literature. He also hosted a weekly radio program devoted to the music of Duke Ellington. In 1973, he met and fell in love with Paula Beversdorf. They have been married ever since.
In 1981, Krin began teaching in the Comparative Literature Department at the State University of New York in Stony Brook. By the time he retired in 2014, he had taught everything from ancient Greek literature to “Sexuality in Literature” to a seminar on Miles Davis. Mostly, however, he taught cinema studies. His first three books grew out of his interest in film: Psychiatry and the Cinema (1987), Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema (1996), and Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture (2004). More about Krin Gabbard’s Books→
As a child, Krin played the cornet in school concert bands and jazz ensembles, but he gave it up when he went off to college. Thirty-seven years later he bought a new trumpet and began taking lessons. His book, Hotter Than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture (2008), describes his new life as an amateur trumpet-player. The book also gives a history of the trumpet from ancient Egypt to the present, with special attention to the African American jazz artists who transformed the instrument in the 20th century.
Only after he had begun playing the cornet and developing a passion for jazz did Krin discover the music of Charles Mingus. He was fifteen and listening to a late-night radio station when he was supposed to be asleep. The music changed his life. This transformation eventually led to his most recent book, Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus.
As a retiree, Krin has become an adjunct professor in the Jazz Studies program at Columbia University. He also plays his trumpet in a big band that meets on Saturday afternoons. He continues to edit the Oxford Bibliography on Cinema and Media Studies→.
With his wife, Paula, Krin lives on the Upper West Side of New York City and occasionally goes out to a movie or a jazz club.