This research adopts a feminist content analytic framework to examine the portrayal of Nigerian women in the work of Uko Akpan Cultural Group, iconic champions of folk music in south-eastern Nigeria. The purpose of this research is to understand if folk music reinforces gender stereotypes or empowers women by providing them with a legitimate platform to utilize their talents as a source of income and livelihood. To achieve the goal of the research, ten hours of digital content were examined for mentions, images, and the presence of girls and women and the contexts in which they occur in the work of the Uko Akpan Cultural Group. The content included songs, choreography, costume, instrumentation, and public performances spanning several decades and addressing key socio-political and cultural issues. The research demonstrates that while folk music provides a legitimate platform for women to showcase their talents as artists against the backdrop of patriarchal structures, it also reinforces gender stereotypes and narratives of women as subordinate and subservient beings. Folk music can be a viable vehicle for the advancement of women, especially those on the socio-economic and geographic margins of society if new narratives about women are integrated into the artifacts of folk music.
Key words: folk music; folk culture, gender stereotypes, gender and music, Ukokpan, Ukokpanism.
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