Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America

Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America

by Jake Johnson

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adopted the vocal and theatrical traditions of American musical theater as important theological tenets. As Church membership grew, leaders saw how the genre could help define the faith and wove musical theater into many aspects of Mormon life. Jake Johnson merges the study of belonging in America with scholarship on voice and popular music to explore the surprising yet profound link between two quintessentially American institutions. Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Mormons gravitated toward musicals as a common platform for transmitting political and theological ideas. Johnson sees Mormons using musical theater as a medium for theology of voice—a religious practice that suggests how vicariously voicing another person can bring one closer to godliness. This sounding, Johnson suggests, created new opportunities for living. Voice and the musical theater tradition provided a site for Mormons to negotiate their way into middle-class respectability. At the same time, musical theater became a unique expressive tool of Mormon culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252084331
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 06/30/2019
Series: Music in American Life Series
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,099,707
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Jake Johnson is an assistant professor of musicology in the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue 1

Introduction: Vicarious Voices 9

1 "Come, Listen to a Prophets Voice, and Hear the Word of God": The Voice and Mormon Theatricality 32

2 Promised Valley, Integration, and the Singing Voice 55

3 Exoticized Voices, Racialized Bodies: Lineage and Whiteness on Stage 83

4 "I've Heard That Voice Before": Reprising the Voice in Sacred Time 113

5 Voice Interrupted: Book of Mormon and the Failed Message of Correlated Mormonism 142

Epilogue 169

Notes 171

Bibliography 187

Index 195

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