Cuban Women and Salsa: To the Beat of Their Own Drum


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Although salsa as a musical phenomenon has garnered interest from various disciplines in the last fifteen years, the contributions of female performers to the genre has been largely ignored. Here, Poey rectifies that oversight by tracing the participation of Cuban and Cuban-American women as either solo artists or lead vocalists in the development and popularization of salsa. In order to explore how female singers negotiate complex issues of gender, race, and nation through their performances, Poey starts with an examination of one of the roots of salsa, Cuban music. The singers Rita Montaner and Celeste Mendoza, who both adapted traditional forms such as Rumba for different audiences, were early models for what women in salsa would become. From there, salsa took off with the careers of Celia Cruz, La Lupe, Gloria Estefan, and Albita Rodriguez, with their complex portrayals and interpretations of gender and racial codes. Salsa is inherently both an American and transnational phenomenon and Poey engages with the ways performers problematize the idea of the nation and facilitate their musical performances’ movement across multiple borders.

Additional information

Weight 0.83 lbs
Dimensions 8.6 × 5.6 × 0.6 in


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