Laurel Myers Hurst is an ethnomusicologist and student of Kazadi wa Mukuna. Her interests include the compositional output of Egyptian expatriate Halim El-Dabh (b. 1921), Blomberg Rhythmic Movement Training, rhythmic structure in Gospel music performance, liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East and the essential nature of uniqueness in the construct of identity. Hurst holds degrees from Kent State University in Ethnomusicology (M.A. 2010) and Voice (B.A. 1992). Her thesis, “Drive vs. Vamp: Theorizing Concepts that Organize ‘Improvisation’ in Gospel Communities” examines the relationship between recycled and layered musical themes in Gospel ensemble performance. This study is based upon the writing of African musicologist Meki Nzewi, and has been furthered by her mentors: ethnomusicologist/sociologist Kazadi wa Mukuna, educator and Gospel director Linda B. Walker, and jazz trombonist Chas Baker.
Hurst holds a special place in her heart for first-generation college students from rural communities and for non-traditional students. Her husband, children and parents are her inspiration to live abundantly, and to encourage others to do the same.