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Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America

Utilizing others’ voices to deliver one nearer to God

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adopted the vocal and theatrical traditions of American musical theater as essential theological tenets. As church membership grew, leaders noticed how the style may assist outline the religion and wove musical theater into many facets of Mormon life.

Jake Johnson merges the research of belonging in America with scholarship on voice and common music to discover the shocking but profound hyperlink between two quintessentially American establishments. All through the 20 th and twenty-first centuries, Mormons gravitated towards musicals as a typical platform for transmitting political and theological concepts. Johnson sees Mormons utilizing musical theater as a medium for theology of voice—a spiritual apply that implies how vicariously voicing one other individual can deliver one nearer to godliness. This sounding, Johnson suggests, created new alternatives for residing. Voice and the musical theater custom supplied a website for Mormons to barter their method into middle-class respectability. On the similar time, musical theater grew to become a singular expressive device of Mormon tradition.

“By way of cautious historiography and shut consideration to sound, Johnson expertly maps the intersections of voice research, Mormon doctrine, race and faith, and the worlds of American musical theater. Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America convinces us that theology, theatricality, nationality, and vocality are entwined in Mormonism and lengthen in fascinating methods into American common tradition.”–Jeffers Engelhardt, writer of Singing the Proper Manner: Orthodox Christians and Secular Enchantment in Estonia

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“Mormon theatre has been studied earlier than, whether or not as Victorian vignette or parochial propaganda. However right here Jake Johnson illuminates theatricality in faith itself, with Mormonism as his focus. I encountered surprises all through, the type that stick with you want corrective lenses.”–Michael Hicks, writer of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography

Publication of this e-book was supported by a grant from the AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological Society, funded partly by the Nationwide Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Basis.

Jake Johnson is an assistant professor of musicology within the Wanda L. Bass Faculty of Music at Oklahoma Metropolis College.

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