Ned Sublette was born in 1951 in Lubbock, Texas. He is a composer, musician, record producer, musicologist, and author. Sublette studied Spanish Classical Guitar with Hector Garcia at the University of New Mexico and with Emilio Pujol in Spain. He studied composition with Kenneth Gaburo at the University of California, San Diego. His book, co-authored with his wife Constance Sublette, The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry, won a 2016 American Book Award.
Sublette is a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow. In 2012 he was a Knight-Luce Fellow for Reporting on Global Religion at the University of Southern California. He did research in Angola, which resulted in a four-episode Hip Deep Angola radio series, produced for the public radio program Afropop Worldwide. He grew up in Portales, New Mexico, moved to New York City in 1976.