Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Blackness in Opera$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Naomi Andre, Karen M. Bryan, and Eric Saylor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036781

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036781.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 28 February 2021

New Paradigms in William Grant Still’s Blue Steel

New Paradigms in William Grant Still’s Blue Steel

(p.141) 7 New Paradigms in William Grant Still’s Blue Steel
Blackness in Opera

Gayle Murchison

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the aesthetics underlying William Grant Still's Blue Steel and contextualizes it as a Harlem Renaissance work engaged with the African past and Still's diasporic present. Composed in 1934, Blue Steel was envisioned by Still as an African American opera—one that not only treated an African American subject, but was also rooted in African American and African diasporic culture—namely, its syncretic religion, voodoo or voudon. The chapter first takes a look at Still's first exposure to and early attempts at opera before discussing his collaborators in the creation of Blue Steel. It then provides a summary of Blue Steel's plot and characters as well as its use of African music for conceptual approaches to representing Africa and Africanness through musical signifiers. It also examines how voodoo became a means for Still to express himself as a Harlem Renaissance artist by functioning as a multifaceted signifier of African identity within the New World.

Keywords:   aesthetics, William Grant Still, Blue Steel, Harlem Renaissance, voodoo, voudon, African music, Africa, Africanness, African identity

Illinois Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.