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Tigers of a Different StripePerforming Gender in Dominican Music$
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Sydney Hutchinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226405322

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226405636.001.0001

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date: 16 July 2018

Fefita the Great

Fefita the Great

(p.83) 4 Fefita the Great
Tigers of a Different Stripe

Sydney Hutchinson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the music and career of Fefita la Grande, a pioneering female accordionist in merengue típico and among the most beloved figures in Dominican music today. A combination of biography and oral history with lyrical, musical, and movement analyses shows that she is culturally charismatic in much the same way as Tatico Henríquez, the male accordionist featured in the previous chapter: she too emerged in the tumultuous post-dictatorship period and carefully performs a persona that merges the archetypal feminine role of mujer seria in her offstage life with the tíguera in the public eye. This performance of gender is all the more notable for how it has grown and changed with her as she has aged. But paradoxically, the love audiences have for her singing voice and stage antics (framed here as a form of camp or choteo, related to that of Cuban American diva La Lupe) is often paired with disdain for her instrumental technique. The author analyzes accordion solos and bodily movements to show how Fefita performs a trickster/tíguera in her rhythmic play and physical gestures, an important intervention in the típico world that paved the way for the many female accordionists that have followed her.

Keywords:   merengue típico, femininity, tíguera, Fefita la Grande, improvisation, camp, instrumental technique, accordion, singing voice, body

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