In Divine Utterances, Katherine J. Hagedorn explores the enduring cultural and spiritual power of the music of Afro-Cuban Santeria and the process by which it has been transformed for a secular audience. She focuses on the integral connections between sacred music performances and the dramatizations of theatrical troupes, especially the state-sponsored Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, and examines the complex relationships involving race, politics, and religion in Cuba. The music that Hagedorn describes is rooted in Afro-Cuban religious tradition and today pervades a secular performances that can produce a trance in audience members in the same way as a traditional religious ceremony.
Hagedorn's analysis is deeply informed by her experiences in Cuba as a woman, scholar, and apprentice bata drummer. She argues that constructions of race and gender, the politics of pre- and post-Revolutionary Cuba, the economics of tourism, and contemporary practices within Santeria have contributed to a blurring of boundaries betwen the sacred and the folkloric. As both modes now vie for primacy in Cuba's burgeoning tourist trade, what had once been the music of a marginalized group is now a cultural expression of national pride.
The compact disc that accompanies the book includes examples of twenty songs to the orichas, or Afro-Cuban deities, performed by prominent musicians, including Lazaro Ros, Francisco Aguabella, Alberto Villarreal, and Zenaida Armenteros.
About the Author
Katherine J. Hagedorn is associate professor of music at Pomona College.
“A highly original work . . . that will stand out as the most thorough exploration of Santería music performance, both religious and theatrical.”—Raul Fernández, University of California, Irvine