Wishin’ and Hopin’: Femininity, Whiteness, and Voice in 1960s British Pop

This dissertation explores performances by British girl singers from the 1960s to the present. I argue that vocal performances by singers such as Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, and Marianne Faithfull helped construct emerging models of white femininity in the 1960s that continue to resonate in pop vocal performances today. I show that, through vocal performance, these singers envoice liminal spaces at the boundaries of social categories such as race, gender, and class. My first two chapters explore aspirational performances of femininity by Shaw, Black, and Springfield, from 1963-1969. I show how Shaw and Black positioned themselves as solo singers, and argue that their vocal styles reflected an emerging liberal model of feminine independence that was at turns freeing and regressive. The following chapter argues that Springfield drew on collaborations with African-American women, such as Martha Reeves, to vocalize a different kind of feminine identity for herself, one grounded in a sense of alterity, and to create a space for racial justice that was ultimately limited by structural inequalities. The second pair of chapters look back at the 1960s through contemporary performances. I consider the current work of Lulu and Faithfull as aging singers, and argue that they must contend not only with cultural memories of their 1960s girlhood, but also with discourses of decline, and with the physical impact of aging on the voice. I close with a chapter about Candie Payne, Duffy, and Shelby Lynne, contemporary singers whose nostalgic use of 1960s vocal techniques re-imagines mid-century ideals of femininity in the present. My analyses are rooted in feminist theories of intersectionality and performance, and methods from Voice Studies. I draw on a range of archival sources, including fashion and music magazines, newspapers, memoirs, and television footage.