Women Singers in Global Contexts

Women Singers in Global Contexts: Music, Biography, Identity

Edited by RUTH HELLIER
Afterword by ELLEN KOSKOFF
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt2jcc62
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Women Singers in Global Contexts
    Book Description:

    Exploring and celebrating individual lives in diverse situations, Women Singers in Global Contexts is a new departure in the study of women's worldwide music-making. Ten unique women constitute the heart of this volume: each one has engaged her singing voice as a central element in her life, experiencing various opportunities, tensions, and choices through her vocality. These biographical and poetic narratives demonstrate how the act of vocalizing embodies dynamics of representation, power, agency, activism, and risk-taking._x000B__x000B_Engaging with performance practice, politics, and constructions of gender through vocality and vocal aesthetics, this collection offers valuable insights into the experiences of specific women singers in a range of sociocultural contexts. Contributors trace themes and threads that include childhood, families, motherhood, migration, fame, training, transmission, technology, and the interface of private lives and public identities._x000B__x000B_This volume is the first collection of primarily ethnographic work to concentrate solely on individual women singers. Singing takes on a distinctive role in each woman's life, and the women profiled include a locally known community singer, an internationally-renowned priestess, a professional wedding singer, and a national star. Essays range across musical genres encompassing jazz, rap, traditional, folk, devotional, and classical, and the collection's geographical focus includes Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Cuba, Cyprus, Germany, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, Torres Strait Islands, Turkey, and the United States._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Shino Arisawa, Katelyn Barney, Gay Breyley, Nicoletta Demetriou, Veronica Doubleday, Ruth Hellier, Ellen Koskoff, Carol Muller, Thomas Solomon, Amanda Villepastour, and Louise Wrazen._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09436-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. The Companion Website
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction. Vocal Herstories: Resonances of Singing, Individuals, and Authors
    (pp. 1-37)
    RUTH HELLIER

    Ten unique women constitute the heart of this volume: each one has engaged her singing voice as a central element in her life, experiencing manifold opportunities, tensions, and choices through her vocality. Her stories encompass relationships, encounters, and journeys entailing jubilation, struggle, suffering, excitement, fervor, drive, and generosity. Her singing—the action of producing musical sound through the expelling of air causing vibrations of the body—involves profoundly personal and individual experiential, sensory, and signifying processes that resonate with contexts ranging from local to global. Through narrative ethnography, biography, verbatim text, and analysis to convey fragments of these women’s lives,...

  5. 1. Akiko Fujii: Telling the Musical Life Stories of a Hereditary Jiuta Singer of Japan
    (pp. 38-53)
    SHINO ARISAWA

    Born into a prestigious musical family in 1963, Akiko Fujii has lived through many professional and personal changes, culminating in a career in her chosen art form of traditional classical singing. Her life experiences have cultivated and sculpted her as a musician, a woman, a wife, a daughter, a granddaughter, and a sister. When training in jiuta song she struggled to locate her own musical identity in relation to two senior women within her family—her mother and grandmother. Following in the footsteps of these two rather contradictory role models, Akiko’s exploration into her own aesthetics of singing and performance...

  6. 2. Amelia Pedroso: The Voice of a Cuban Priestess Leading from the Inside
    (pp. 54-72)
    AMANDA VILLEPASTOUR

    Amelia Pedroso (1946–2000) was an esteemed, yet controversial, ritual singer orakpónin an Afro-Cuban spiritual tradition popularly known as Santería, or to the devotees themselves, Regla de Ocha or simply Ocha. Pedroso’s voice—literal and metaphoric—continues to posthumously shape issues of gender in the music-making of Santería.¹ While the overwhelming majority of ritual singers in the tradition are men, there is no religious discourse that narrates why this should be so, as there is in Afro-Cuban drumming traditions. However, it is not Pedroso’s status as a leading woman akpón that created controversy. Using one kind of power,...

  7. 3. Ayben: “The Girl’s Voice in Turkish Rap”
    (pp. 73-91)
    THOMAS SOLOMON

    It is a warm, muggy evening in late May 2004 in the northern Istanbul district of Maslak, where an outdoor hip-hop festival is taking place.¹ Since midafternoon various Turkish hip-hop acts have taken the stage, including well-coordinated rap groups, charismatic solo performers, and enigmatic DJs holding court from behind their setups of turntables and mixers. A variety of rap styles—pop rap, hardcore rap, oriental rap—are represented, and the performers have all been men. In the late evening the much-anticipated headliner from New York takes the stage with his crew, and the crowd rushes forward to catch a view...

  8. 4. Ixya Herrera: Gracefully Nurturing “Mexico” with Song in the U.S.A.
    (pp. 92-111)
    RUTH HELLIER

    My throat releases as my mind’s ear re-members a moment of embodied, sonic, sensory thrill. I can hear and feel a singing voice—my body responds kinesthetically with muscular and emotional shaping in my jaw, lungs, and breath. I recall that I am sitting in the packed auditorium of the Autry National Center, Los Angeles, California, on a warm and sultry Sunday afternoon in summer 2008. A young woman, Ixya Herrera, is onstage singing “El Pastor” (“The Shepherd”), a classic Mexicanhuapango.¹ With the distinctive vocal shift to falsetto and sustained high notes, accompanied by the syncopated strumming of the...

  9. 5. Kyriakou Pelagia: The Housewife/Grandmother-Star of Cyprus
    (pp. 112-130)
    NICOLETTA DEMETRIOU

    As punctual as an Englishwoman,” she shouted, before I even got out of the car. “Right on time.” I said hello, and walked with her across the small yard that led to the kitchen door. It was late morning and the sun was already burning. The colorful flowers in her garden had just been watered to guard them against the looming heat of noon. She was wearing an old work dress and black open-toe slippers. I noticed that her feet and toenails were dirty with the fertile red soil of the village. “I was in the field,” she said, as...

  10. 6. Lexine Solomon: Songs of Connection and Celebration by a Torres Strait Islander
    (pp. 131-145)
    KATELYN BARNEY

    Raised in Australia’s North Queensland, Lexine Solomon is a Torres Strait Islander who has performed nationally and internationally as a singer for over twenty years. The Torres Strait Islands are a group of islands situated between Cape York, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. Yet, like many Torres Strait Islanders, Lexine was born and lives on mainland Australia. Her music encompasses a diverse range of styles and languages and an overarching theme is her identity as a Torres Strait Islander woman. I have known Lexine for seven years and have worked collaboratively with her on a research project to draw attention...

  11. 7. Marysia’s Voice: Defining Home through Song in Poland and Canada
    (pp. 146-160)
    LOUISE WRAZEN

    Who am I?” “What kind of person am I?” Marysia is prompted to ask herself when explaining the contemplative process that contributes to her creativity as a singer. She reflects that she needs to stand—to stop—and think about her current life before being able to effectively capture it in her songs. Rather than implying any misgiving about her own identity, however, such provocative self-questioning reveals a self-conscious and deliberate consideration of her current life in Canada as opposed to her past in Poland. In fact, Marysia is confident in who she is, on the one hand drawing on...

  12. 8. Sathima Bea Benjamin: Musical Echoes and the Poetics of a South African–American Musical Self
    (pp. 161-176)
    CAROL MULLER

    In 2002, several years after receiving the words and melody of “Musical Echoes” in a dream, South African born jazz singer, Sathima Bea Benjamin traveled from New York City to Cape Town to record the song and produce a CD of the same name. Her trio included American Steven Scott on piano, South Africans Lulu Gontsana on drums, and Basil Moses on bass. My point of entry to her life and music is the cover of theMusical Echoesrecording, a color photograph of Sathima at home, alone at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town as the...

  13. 9. Sima’s Choices: Negotiating Repertoires and Identities in Contemporary Iran
    (pp. 177-193)
    GAY BREYLEY

    In a village near the Caspian Sea coast in the northern Iranian province of Mazanderan, a group of old friends gathers in a private home. These friends are mostly middle-aged, with adolescent and adult children. They share news, reminisce, joke, and discuss current issues over kebabs grilled in the yard, with glasses that are constantly refilled. After eating, the host, Ahmad Mohsenpour, picks up hiskamanche(a four-stringed spike fiddle), and one of the guests, Sima Shokrani, picks up hertombak(a goblet drum). The talk is soon hushed by the rich tones of Sima’s singing voice. Her voice’s low...

  14. 10. Zainab Herawi: Finding Acclaim in the Conservative Islamic Culture of Afghanistan
    (pp. 194-212)
    VERONICA DOUBLEDAY

    In 1968, accompanied by her husband and children, twenty-seven-year-old Afghan singer Zainab Herawi¹ traveled to Kabul to make recordings at Radio Afghanistan. The long journey—seven hundred miles from her home city of Herat—was her first trip to the capital and a turning point in her singing career. No other woman singer in her musician clan had been accorded this honor, and the invitation gave her preeminence. Ever afterward Zainab liked to boast to her clients and rivals that she and her family had been guests of Radio Afghanistan for two weeks.

    Zainab’s host, the head of music at...

  15. Afterword
    (pp. 213-226)
    ELLEN KOSKOFF

    Upon first reading the essays in this extraordinary collection, I was struck by two contradictory ideas: on the one hand, the articles seemed to lack any overarching, connecting themes, save the one mentioned in the Introduction, written by editor, Ruth Hellier; on the other hand, this very resistance to thematic construction seemed to give a vibrancy, a realness to the individual voices and to the multiplicity of voices (even within one individual) that sing in each of the chapters. I was so engaged with these individual women (not to mention the individual authors) that connecting them to each other began...

  16. APPENDIX Threads, Themes, Connections, and Clusters Outlines for Each Singer
    (pp. 227-238)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 239-242)
  18. Index
    (pp. 243-253)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 254-254)