Summer Kim Lee

Summer Kim Lee earned her BA at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, creating an interdisciplinary concentration in women of color performance artists in New York. She then completed her MA at New York University’s Performance Studies, studying the aesthetics and structures of racialized feeling and embodiment within vocal performance in popular music. As a PhD candidate, she is continuing to pursue the line of inquiry established during her time as an MA student.



"'Singin' Up On You': Queer Intimacies of the Sonorous Body In 'The New Sound Karaoke'"

Every week, in Brooklyn, New York, performance artist Lynne Chan and filmmaker Bobby Abate co-host a free karaoke night called “The New Sound Karaoke” not as themselves, but as their alter egos Black Waterfall and Bobby Service.  Waterfall and Service are a converted married couple, who through their passion for karaoke, share a relationship that is documented and performed in a series of self-made karaoke music videos of mash-ups and parodies.  In “Promiscuous,” a parody of Nelly Furtado and Timbaland’s “Promiscuous Girl,” Waterfall and Service sing out and work through their marriage as it resonates queerly, beyond the limitations of heteronormative narratives of intimacy and kinship. 

This presentation looks and listens to the ways in which the act of singing, particularly within karaoke, can potentially enact queer forms of intimacy through the pleasurable encounter between voices, and between the resonant bodies from which these voices emit.  This kind of encounter between voices and bodies enacts what I call a “queer sonorous intimacy,” a term I explicate further through a conceptualization of karaoke as a queer mode of performance, which turns away from the mastery of trained singing voices, and instead, embraces the failures that emerge through amateur vocal performances shared with and by an audience of fellow karaoke singers.  In my analysis of “Promiscuous,” within the context of “The New Sound Karaoke” as a sonorous and intimate event, I argue that Chan and Abate take up karaoke performance to produce visual and sonorous narratives of queer intimacy, of pleasures felt in singing to, with, and “up on” each other.