Alexandra ApolloniJul 11, 2022
Voicing Femininity in 1960s British Pop
Oxford University Press 2021
Freedom Girls: Voicing Femininity in 1960s British Pop (Oxford University Press, 2021) by Alexandra M. Apolloni is about how the vocal performances of girl singers in 1960s Britain defined—and sometimes defied—ideas about what it meant to be a young woman. Apolloni takes a case study approach to tease out many different strands of the nature of femininity in 1960s Britain, but she tackles much more than gender in this book. She also considers larger public conversations about authenticity, race, sexuality, and class which dictated and shaped the careers and the reception of the group of singers she writes about. In what is almost a group biography, Apolloni writes about Sandie Shaw, Cilla Black, Lulu, Dusty Springfield, Millie Small, Marianne Faithfull and P.P. Arnold. They are Black and white, many come from working-class backgrounds, most were born in Britain, and all were very young when they first gained national attention. While most of them have an international following, their careers were rooted in the U.K., but the music they sang was fundamentally influenced by the music of Black Americans. Apolloni carefully separates and interrogates the maelstrom of identity, music, political agendas, and cultural meanings that surround these women. The performances she analyzes reveal the historical and contemporary connections between voice, social mobility, and musical authority, and demonstrate how singers used voice to navigate the boundaries of race, class, and gender.
Kristen M. Turner is a lecturer in the music and honors departments at North Carolina State University. Race and Gender in the Western Music History Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide, which she wrote with Horace Maxile, was published by Routledge Press in 2022.