The Great Woman Singer: Gender and Voice in Puerto Rican Music by Licia Fiol-Matta offers a luminous account of the careers and voices of four Puerto Rican singers: Myrta Silva, Ruth Fernandez, Ernestina “La Calandria” Reyes, and Lucecita Benitez. Each chapter constitutes a “critical biography” of one of these performers, in which the author explores the singularity of their vocality: “I aim to really listen to women's voices, in the sense of paying attention to their conceptual dimension, away from notions of natural or intuitive performance” (4). Gender and voice are thus central to this study, as well as the “nothing” which these dynamics of performance reveal. Fiol-Matta is interested in the “nothing” as a space that conjures refusal, that elicits abjection. It may be a void a singer decides to inhabit, rather than be legible to the violence of heteronormativity or celebrity, or it may be a space to...

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