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7 OCTOBER 2014—

Mama Alto

Photo by Alexis Desaulniers-Lea.

Mama Alto is a countertenor diva, jazz singer and cabaret artiste. Drawing on the legacies of vintage torch singers and from her own identity as a queer person of colour, Mama Alto’s vocal and visual aesthetic transcends gender, disrupting and discomforting societal constructions of dichotomous boundaries. “My singing is an act of transgression against traditional gendered vocal roles, and indeed, of traditional expectations of gender constructed by society. The voice of Mama Alto—my voice—is a voice that defies gender, the (ascribed to be) female voice of the contralto or mezzo-soprano within the body of what is (ascribed to be) male.” Sexually and racially ambiguous, Mama Alto reclaims narratives of Othering, defies the normative and rejoices in the sublime by embracing perceived differences.