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PRS Paper--Gender in Music

PRS Paper--Gender in Music - Dr Frank Gunderson MUH2019 19...

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Dr. Frank Gunderson MUH2019 19 November 2007 When the Line between Genders Blurs, Music Legends Are Made Music is one’s soul personified in the form of self expression. It is the universal sound of what we can not readily express. It is the sound of our life experiences. It is the sound of our past loves, hardships, aspirations, and fears. It is the sound of our emotions out in the open for all to hear. It is the sound of breaking the rules imposed by society, and the sound of making new ones that speak to reality. It is pure, raw, unadulterated; and regardless of gender, the most successful artists are the ones that lure us in with their voice and image and trap us with their thought provoking words. One of the greatest examples of mastering this craft is Aretha Franklin. In regards to Aretha’s music, Bobby Taylor says, “she lashes her listeners—in her words—‘to the bone, for deepness’. Aretha’s music makes you sweaty, gives you a chill, makes you want to stomp your feet.” ( Time 1968: 165) Aretha Franklin is a woman who broke gender barriers many times throughout her career. One of the ways she did this was by remaking songs made famous by male artists. “In 1967-68, Aretha Franklin’s version of Otis Redding’s ‘Respect’ and James Brown’s ‘Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)’ signaled soul music’s entry into a new phase of political engagement… [Her] hits [conveyed] a sense of pride and strength not previously expressed by black female singers.” ( Time 1968: 164) Aretha reinvented the accepted social position of women— much like Billie Holiday did with “Do Your Duty” in 1949—with her empowering lyrics. Her hit “I Will Survive” is a perfect example of this,
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“At first I was afraid. I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side, But then I spent so many nights just thinking how you did me wrong. And I grew strong. And I learned how to get along… Go on now go. Walk out the door. Just turn around now, Cause you're not welcome anymore. Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbyes? Do you think I'd crumble? Do you think I'd lay down and die? Oh no not I! I will survive!” In her rendition of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” Franklin transforms the song message from one with a masculine viewpoint that depicts women as subservient into an empowering song that depicts women as demanding from the men in their lives the respect they deserve. Aretha Franklin wholly transforms the song’s message, and breaks the gender line.
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