Taking it higher: the spirituality of sensuality in funk performance
Funk music, which emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a distinct genre, sonically emphasizes rhythm and timbral heterogeneity. Politically and culturally, it addresses issues of equality and racial identity. However, because of the emphasis on rhythm and the kinetic movement of dancing bodies that funk inspires, it is frequently considered secular and sexualized, placing it in opposition to 'sacred' music. In this paper, I argue that funk offers an alternative framework that I call the spirituality of sensuality that bypasses the sacred/secular dichotomy. Funk does so by participating in the Afrodiasporic traditions where the concept of spirituality is embedded in and articulated through musical performance. Thus, rather than the either/or polarity that the sacred/secular divide creates, this paper demonstrates how funk expresses spirituality through the sensuousness of the sonic material.