Abstract and Keywords
Drawing on a case study of African American countertenor Patrick Dailey and an ethnography of his live performance, this chapter is an ethnomusicological assessment of his social and theological navigation of gendered vocal sound. African American gospel singing challenges the binary gender framework that the American public expects, with men singing low and women singing high. As a man who sings high, Dailey has to demonstrate performance competence in African American worship. Dailey deftly negotiates the tensions and intersections between these dual processes of musical performance. He does so with an aspiration to deliver a presentation that is what he refers to as “anointed”: music that is from and for God. Dailey’s performance also engages African American audiences’ various types of cultural familiarity to portray competency as a worship leader and trained artist. Thus, while making a mark in sacred music history, more generally, Patrick Dailey’s performance reveals the subtle ways Western art music conventions of classifying vocalists are utilized and revised in the interpretation of cross-cultural performance in African American churches.
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