Racializing Music Genre
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.
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