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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

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

Kristina M. Jacobsen

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631868.003.0004

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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