Thinking about the Thinking Voice

Event Recap of The Great Woman Singer, 10/17/17

A power-panel assembled on October 17 to discuss Licia Fiol-Matta’s new book, “The Great Woman Singer: Gender and Voice in Puerto Rican Music.” The panelists — Rubén Ríos Ávila (NYU), Gayatri Gopinath (NYU), Jack Halberstam (Columbia), Fred Moten (NYU), Alexandra Vazquez (NYU), and Licia Fiol-Matta (NYU) — explored the book’s themes, dwelling on the “thinking voice” and the gendered expectations of musicians as Fiol-Matta presents them.  

The thinking voice is Fiol-Matta’s concept that the voice is a place for exposition and critiques of gender norms superimposed on vocalists and performers by society. As the panelists discussed, there is not one voice that emanates from the human body, it is constructed. Thus, as Fred Moten said, the book analyzes how the singers have “discomposed gendered musical traditions.”

Overall, it was a night filled with music, laughter, and celebration of Fiol-Matta’s extraordinary work.

Hear the full event below: