Vortragsreihe "Kunst - Forschung - Geschlecht"Pamela Sneed
Ball & Chain - „The Gendered“ Performance of Big Mama ThorntonMittwoch, 25. November 2020
18:00 - 20:00 Uhr
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© Particia Silva
When Ray Charles was interviewed by a White reporter about Elvis Presley and foundations of rock and roll Ray Charles shouted, “ Elvis Presley is ok but rock and roll belongs to Willie Mae Thornton,” aka Big Mama Thornton. Ray Charles was referring to Presley’s cover of Big Mama Thornton’s song Hound Dog which was written for her specifically and intended to be a Black Feminist anthem. Elvis went on to make millions from the song and Big. Mama made a few hundred. Similarity, Janis Joplins cover of Big Mamas original song Ball & Chain. also made millions and few today know of the legendary blues singer who in latter years dressed entirely in men’s’ clothing. Without Big Mama’s gender bending there would be no Madonna, Grace Jones, nor Annie Lennox all of whom have donned men’s drag in their musical performances. In this lecture, I posit, that Big Mama Thornton was a pioneering lesbian and transgender performer. I will examine several of her stage performances and critical responses to her work to place her firmly in a queer canon and at the intersection of race, gender and sexuality.
Pamela Sneed is a New York-based poet, writer, performer and visual artist. She is author of Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom than Slavery, KONG and Other Works and two chaplets, Gift by Belladonna and Black Panther. She has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker. She teaches in Columbia University’s School of the Arts in the MFA Visual arts Program, teaching new genres, poetry, prose and visual culture She appears in Nikki Giovanni’s, “The 100 Best African American Poems.” Her poetry and prose book, “Funeral Diva,” is forthcoming from City Lights in Sept 2020. She is interested in painting/collage/assemblage/politics and abstraction. Her visual work has appeared in HBO’s The Studio in Provincetown and at The Leslie Lohman Museum and more.