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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Queens of the Dancehall and Rudegyals: Rasta Women and Reggae-Dancehall in Brazil


This woman carries the voices of her community through expressions of strength, savvy, and sexuality. She is bold and beautiful, brave and bountiful. She is the Rastafarian queen and the rudegyal of the dancehall. The Reggae-Dancehall sound system culture originated in Jamaica and was popularized during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Since then, this music has reached the far ends of the globe, affecting not only music, but also culture and religion. Quite recently—within the last five to ten years—a large Dancehall scene has erupted in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During six weeks of fieldwork in this region last summer spent living with and traveling with musicians, I have seen a range of performances, had many interviews, conversations, and experiences with many members of this bourgeoning music scene. A few women in particular, such as Lei Di Dai, Ivy of Familia 7Velas, and Sista Carol Jahffe, are recognized within their community for expressing messages and images of strong women. These women portray diverse personalities through their stage personas and lyrical content. Implementing black feminist theory and concepts of gender and musical performance, is vital for perspectives from black women concerning black women. This exploration will focus on the emergence and experiences of black females, standing out within a male-dominated field of Reggae-Dancehall, in the urban jungles of Sureste (Southeast) Brazil.

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