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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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Sounding Navajo

Sounding Navajo

The Politics of Social Citizenship and Tradition

(p.113) Chapter Four Sounding Navajo
Sound of Navajo Country

Kristina M. Jacobsen

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter Four interrogates what is defined as “sounding Navajo” and what happens when someone refuses to adhere to these expectations. Looking at how gender, nation, and the idea of a prescriptive “Navajo” sound intertwine, I show ethnographically how Navajo blues and rock bands such as Chucki Begay and the Mother Earth Blues Band are often told they don't “sound Navajo'” by local radio station deejays who refuse to play them on air. Instead, these deejays insist that sounding Navajo is defined as a male vocalist singing either Anglo-affiliated genres such as country music, or genres historically associated with Navajo tradition, such as social dance- and ceremonial songs. Tracing why Navajo identity came to be aligned with country music, the “rez” accent and the male singing voice through the work of the late singer and comedian Vincent Craig, it becomes clear how Navajo musical taste is inflected by class, generation, and gender ideologies.

Keywords:   “Sounding” Navajo, gender ideologies, rez accent, Vincent Craig, male singing voice, national genres of music, Chucki Begay and Mother Earth Blues Band

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