Festa do Jazz

A case study on gender (im)balance in Portuguese jazz


  • José Dias Coventry University
  • Beatriz Nunes Universidade Nova de Lisboa




Women in jazz, Portugal, festival


Since 2003, each year for three days, the cultural heart of Lisbon becomes a unique space, adopted and shaped by a diverse jazz ecology. Festa do Jazz is a jazz festival which showcases Portuguese artists, hosts a national jazz schools’ competition, and provides an annual space for debates on the state of jazz in the country. Festa do Jazz emerged as a multidimensional experience and celebration of Portuguese jazz in a country still reinventing itself as a modern democracy, and within an ever changing and challenging European context as a European Union member-state. It became the first annual and regular large-scale event to bring together different generations of the Portuguese jazz ecology. More importantly, it was accepted and embraced by that ecology as the national platform for debating the ways in which they could promote gender balance, multigenerational interchange and social inclusion through jazz. In this article, the representation of female musicians at Festa do Jazz is analysed. The study was conducted combining dialogic ethnography and quantitative and comparative analysis of all occurrences of female participation in Festa, from 2003 to 2018. Results show overwhelming evidence of gender imbalance and an extremely low participation of female artists and students in what is broadly accepted as the most important showcase of jazz talent in Portugal.

Author Biographies

José Dias, Coventry University

José Dias is Assistant Professor in Popular Music at Coventry University. He has authored several publications on jazz, such as Jazz in Europe: Networking and Negotiating Identities (Bloomsbury, 2019) and Festa do Jazz (with Frota and Martins; INCM, 2020). Dias is currently leading the international research project ‘AMPLIFYhER: Voicing the Experience of Women Musicians in Brazil’. He is also a jazz musician and composer, whose albums have been widely acclaimed.

Beatriz Nunes, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Beatriz Nunes is a Portuguese vocalist, teacher, composer and researcher based in Lisbon. Nunes studied jazz at Escola Superior de Música with a Master’s degree in Music Education in 2020. Since 2021, she has been a PhD student in Ethnomusicology at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa with a PhD research scholarship by FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia). Nunes investigates issues of gender representation and stereotypes in Portuguese jazz.


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How to Cite

Dias, J. ., & Nunes, B. . (2021). Festa do Jazz: A case study on gender (im)balance in Portuguese jazz. Jazz Research Journal, 14(2), 138–159. https://doi.org/10.1558/jazz.42077