The Humbug and the Nightingale: P. T. Barnum, Jenny Lind, and the Branding of a Star Singer for American Reception
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In this article, I analyze Barnum’s pre-arrival promotional campaign for Jenny Lind’s tour, and the effects that it had on Lind’s reception in the American press after her first concert in New York on 11 September1850. I will argue that this campaign constitutes the crucial process by which Barnum transformed Lind’s reputation in the American mind from a little-known European singer to a household name. I interpret Barnum’s campaign as an early example of branding, a brand being defined as a dynamic, designed system of signs that mediates the relationship between producers and consumers. To create the “Lind brand,” Barnum orchestrated a campaign unprecedented in cost, scale, duration, and coherence. It established the main reception narratives that followed. From a musical perspective, it is perhaps easy to overlook this promotional campaign as peripheral, and therefore subordinate to concerns such as repertoire selection and performance. Yet Barnum’s skilled guidance of the public’s view of Lind was not subordinate but generative, teaching listeners of all classes how to receive Lind, how to experience her artistry, and how to distinguish her from previous star singers who had toured in the United States.
Samples, Mark C. "The Humbug and the Nightingale: P. T. Barnum, Jenny Lind, and the Branding of a Star Singer for American Reception." The Musical Quarterly 99, no. 3-4 (2016): 286–320. https://doi-org.ezp.lib.cwu.edu/10.1093/musqtl/gdx009
The Musical Quarterly
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