Lisa Shaw, 8 May 2014

Title of the Talk: Carmen Miranda’s Musical Performances in Brazilian and Hollywood Films (1932-1953)

When? Thursday 8th May 2014 (TT Week2) (17:00-18:30)

Where? Ertegun House, St Giles, University of Oxford

Speaker: Dr Lisa Shaw (Department of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, University of Liverpool, UK)

Abstract: This talk will consider the performance style of singer Carmen Miranda (1909-1955) in her film roles in Brazil and the USA. Already a famous radio performer and recording artist, her film career in Brazil was closely bound up with the musical styles associated with Rio de Janeiro’s carnival in the 1930s, especially the Afro-Brazilian samba. Before leaving for the USA in 1939, she appropriated the ethnically loaded persona of the ‘baiana’, polemically adopting the costume of Afro-Brazilian female street vendors of the colonial era. This talk will examine how she adapted this screen persona for her Hollywood screen roles,‘whitening’ the ‘baiana’, and will analyse her performance style in the corresponding musical numbers.


In the clip below, Carmen Miranda can be seen in the Brazilian film ‘Banana da terra’ (‘Banana of the Land’) from 1938 performing for the first time in her ‘baiana’ costume. She is singing ‘O que é que a baiana tem?’ (‘What is it about the woman from Bahia?’).

Speaker Biography: Dr Lisa Shaw has been Reader in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at the University of Liverpool since August 2005, after completing 15 years at the University of Leeds as lecturer/senior lecturer in Portuguese. In 1999 she was visiting lecturer in Brazilian Culture and Civilization at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.

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