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Validating the Voice In The Music of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross

Martin, Lee Ellen (2016) Validating the Voice In The Music of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Lambert, Hendricks & Ross was an unusual vocal jazz trio. Made up of Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, and Annie Ross, they were one of the only interracial and mixed gender vocal jazz groups in the United States in the late 1950s. They were known for their vocalese—a style of singing in which lyrics are set to recorded instrumental melodies and improvisations. Their music revealed that the voice could fulfill its traditional role by contributing language through lyrics, and simultaneously take on the qualities of an instrument. In 1957, they set words to Count Basie big band recordings and recreated the entire ensemble with three voices. Their album Sing a Song of Basie (1957), was not only a hit, but is now considered the first foundational group recording of vocalese. In addition to their unorthodox sound, they were also a highly unusual looking group in 1950s America. Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross was a racially integrated and mixed gender trio comprised of a white vocal arranger from Boston (Lambert), an African-American vocalist and lyricist (Hendricks), and a Scottish born, former Hollywood child starlet (Ross). Together from 1957 to 1962, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross redefined vocal jazz while simultaneously reflecting changing social attitudes towards race and gender in the United States.
Employing the voice as a foundation, this dissertation addresses two main questions: What does it mean to have a voice in jazz? And, who is allowed a voice?
The voice is traditionally understood as either an expression of individuality or as the performance of a particular gendered, racial, or cultural identity. This dissertation examines the voice as an intersection between these two registers. In the words of Farah Jasmine Griffin, the voice is like “a hinge, a place where things can both come together and break apart.” In this intersection, this dissertation reveals how Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross validated their subjectivities in jazz while also revealing the possibility of a more integrated and equal American society.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Martin, Lee Ellenlem74@pitt.eduLEM74
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSteingo,
Committee MemberAllen,
Committee MemberHeller,
Committee MemberGriffin, Farah
Date: 7 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 23 March 2016
Approval Date: 7 June 2016
Submission Date: 31 March 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 257
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Jazz Studies, Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, American Studies, Voice, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2016 16:02
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


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