"Singing All The Time": Constructions of Cultural Identity in Beyoncé's I am... Sasha Fierce

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Historically speaking, and even today, the reception of women whose voices are on display has been tainted by cultural associations that link their open mouth with the availability of women’s sexual bodies; a lack of moderation in speaking has frequently been seen as both causal and symbolic of loose morality and of sexual promiscuity. Women marginalised by traditional power structures – notably women of colour – have been especially prone to reductive assessments of their character within Western culture, and it is easy to find such assessments in the reception of non-white, female singers, even in popular music in which they are often highly successful. Of the many pop vocalists whose job it is to sing all the time, Beyoncé stands out as a woman who refuses to limit her utterances. A powerful vocal performer with presence and range, her voice is recognisable both for its distinctive style and as a result of a substantial string of group and solo hits. In this chapter, I show that, in spite of Beyoncé’s attempts to control the extent of her sexualised identity, her own vocality is still constructed and expressed in such ways that exploit standard signifiers of femininity, aspects that are deeply inflected by assumptions about ethnicity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyoncé
Subtitle of host publicationAt Work, On Screen, and Online
EditorsMartin Iddon, Melanie L. Marshall
Place of PublicationBloomington
PublisherIndiana University Press
Chapter3
Pages68–90
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780253052865
ISBN (Print)9780253052841, 9780253052827
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2020

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