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Sweetness and Truth

Sweetness and Truth

(p.79) 3 Sweetness and Truth
The Revolution's Echoes
Nomi Dave
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the role of pleasure in praise performance, focusing in particularly on the voice and vocal aesthetics. It also continues discussion of the importance of naming and self-recognition. The narrative focuses on the flood of praise songs that greeted the new military regime in 2009. It addresses the changing role of hereditary praise musicians today, presenting commonly aired debates about wealth and excess in performance. It then examines an instance of live performance to consider how pleasure is created and felt in the moment. The analysis also focuses on the 2009 song ‘CNDD la mansaya’ by Kerfala Kanté. It explores local interpretations of vocal timbre and their associations with notions of truthfulness, in which a smooth, sweet voice is morally suspect while a rough one is authoritative. The chapter connects this idea to aesthetics of concealment and secrecy, and argues that understanding this dynamic allows for both pleasure and estrangement from performance.

Keywords:   praise singing, voice, vocal aesthetics, naming

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