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Lorena Alvarado

Lorena Alvarado holds a PhD in Culture and Performance from UCLA. Currently, she is a Visiting Scholar at Rice University’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Her manuscript, Corporealities of Feeling: Sentimiento, Feminism, and Transnationalism, develops a feminist theoretical framework of sentimiento (feeling and emotion) as vocal technique, gesture, and technology wherein Latina/o popular musicians radicalize notions of nation, gender, sexuality, and race. 

“Sonic Motherhood”
In “Sonic Motherhood,” Lorena Alvarado notes that just as “voice” often signifies metaphor over materiality, references to the “voices” of a community relate to agency, not necessarily physical resonance. She is interested in the complexities and politics of motherhood vocalities, including their silence and vibration, in popular music across Greater Mexico. The vast majority of songs in vernacular repertoires address the mother and produce musical codes of effusive devotion. These standards praise a disembodied, muted, or demure figure, divine or otherwise. Alvarado turns attention to vocalities that contest and complicate the cult of devotion and produce what she calls “sonic motherhood.” Transborder ranchera and banda vocalists like Chayito Valdez (1945), Lucha Villa (1936) and Jenni Rivera (1969-2012) innovated their genres in mid-20th and early 21st centuries. Part of this innovation, she demonstrates, stemmed from precisely the bod(ies) in their voice and their voices in history as Mexicanas and Chicanas negotiating the prevalence of misogyny, anti-Mexican violence, and assault against single mothers of color crossing borders. In this presentation, Alvaro focuses her analysis on Rivera.

“Sentimiento Vocal to Fan Voces” 
The interdisciplinary presentations on this panel approach the concept of musical voices in Latina/o popular music from the perspective of Media and Cultural Studies.  The panelists' methodologies, which range from textual/sonic analysis to focus groups to online audience studies, highlight their broad and diverse conceptualizations of musical voices.  Posited as a site of fan as well as performer agency, each presentation investigates the unique manner in which the voice complicates our understanding of Latina/o identity (or Latinidad) through the lenses of ethno-racial identity, gender, language, and nation.  Ultimately, the presentations on this panel challenge the parameters of "voice" in U.S. popular music, seeking instead to shift our focus to the transnational, transcultural voces that define popular musical performance and consumption for millions across the hemisphere.  


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