Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Carsten M. Schmidtke

Committee Member

Brandon A. Jackson

Second Committee Member

Vicki Dieffenderfer


Career Development, Human Resources, Music Industry, Religious Institution


For African American (AA) male musicians, the road toward career advancement in the entertainment industry is particularly arduous. Despite many difficulties on the journey to career success, the history of gospel, R&B, jazz, and funk music is evidence that many AA male musicians find their way to develop and advance their careers. Many AA male musicians find career development and advancement opportunities through religious and sacred institutions. However, the journey to become a professional musician for AA males is fluid and not formalized causing ambiguity in the steps taken to enter this career field and sustain growth in a rapidly changing music industry. There is an absence of professional training opportunities that focus on enhancing employability skills for musicians which contributes to the lack of support musicians receives to overcome obstacles that barricade career development and advancement in an unstructured workforce.

The purpose of this study was to explore factors that impact career resilience and adaptability during career development and advancement for independent AA male musicians who work in a free agency workforce. The study explored resiliency and adaptability constructs such as survival, initiative, recovery, preparation, and thriving through a conceptual filter that sifts through individual, interpersonal, and sociocultural factors that may influence the growth and advancement of the AA male music careers.

This study was guided by Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory (VST) as the conceptual framework and Career Construction Theory (CCT) as the theoretical framework to investigate the career development of AA musicians. A pragmatic qualitative research design was used as the strategy of inquiry for this study to intentionally employ specific data collection methods attending to the account of events and experiences that have shaped career behaviors, daily work related tasks, interactions within specific environments, and employment transitions or intentional involvement in career building activities of 15 AA male musicians. The musicians in the study proposed individual, interpersonal, sociocultural factors, and career self-management behaviors that impact career resilience and adaptability. The findings were discussed within the context of the research questions and implications and recommendations for practice, research, and policy were offered.