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Sound of Navajo CountryMusic, Language, and Diné Belonging$
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Kristina M. Jacobsen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631868

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631868.001.0001

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Radmilla’s Voice

Radmilla’s Voice

Racializing Music Genre

(p.85) Chapter Three Radmilla’s Voice
Sound of Navajo Country

Kristina M. Jacobsen

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter Three focuses on the story of the first biracial, Navajo-African American “Miss Navajo Nation,” Radmilla Cody (born to Tp’ááschí’í, or Red Cheek People Clan). Fluent in Navajo and raised by her maternal grandmother on the Navajo Nation, I show how Radmilla’s singing voice, by performing “traditional” songs with melismatic, R & B inflection in the Navajo language, signals both inclusion and exclusion within Navajo communities. Here, sounding other than “Navajo” is a way of refusing to adhere to the ascribed status of Diné identity, including phenotype and what it means to “look Navajo.” Radmilla’s voice is a signifier of the intricacies of Diné social difference and as a meeting point of the singular and the social: as something innate and idiosyncratic to each singer and speaker, Radmilla’s voice is also something that is learned, socially acquired, and culturally inscribed.

Keywords:   Miss Navajo, Radmilla Cody, “traditional” song, R&B, Phenotype, “looking Navajo”

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