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What makes a great singer?

Steve Latimer 16 Apr 02 - 02:01 AM
GUEST,Boab 16 Apr 02 - 02:25 AM
C-flat 16 Apr 02 - 02:40 AM
Bert 16 Apr 02 - 02:46 AM
rich-joy 16 Apr 02 - 03:12 AM
Deckman 16 Apr 02 - 07:04 AM
GUEST,Geordie 16 Apr 02 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,vixen @ work 16 Apr 02 - 08:47 AM
tooligan 16 Apr 02 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,Owain 16 Apr 02 - 10:20 AM
MMario 16 Apr 02 - 10:32 AM
Alice 16 Apr 02 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,peg 16 Apr 02 - 03:18 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 16 Apr 02 - 04:55 PM
Irish sergeant 16 Apr 02 - 05:23 PM
Celtic Soul 16 Apr 02 - 05:30 PM
Alice 16 Apr 02 - 05:53 PM
Stephen L. Rich 16 Apr 02 - 07:31 PM
DougR 16 Apr 02 - 09:17 PM
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Subject: What makes a great singer?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 02:01 AM

I went out on Saturday to hear a young woman singer who had been described to me as awesome. She obviously had a trained voice and she did a very good job of perfectly covering a number of tunes from fairly new female artists. I guess my take is that she has a very good voice, but until she finds her own voice she won't go anywhere.

I was listening to Dr. John tonight and it struck me that maybe I'm wrong. His voice isn't pretty, but he gets the feel of the song across. Some of my favourite singers are Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, Emmylou Harris, Jimi Hendrix, Leon Redbone, Ralph & Carter Stanley, Roy Acuff, Taj Mahal, Johnny Winter, Aretha Franklin. To me, they convey the raw emotions of the songs they're singing. I dislike Streisand, Celine Dionne and their ilk. Am I being anti-establishment?


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 02:25 AM

No--not anti-establishment; unless you have a particular "establishment in mind? Your list of favourites include NONE of mine, for instance; I can listen to some of them, and find them "o.k., I guess", but without feeling particularly moved by them. It's all a matter of taste and/or opinion [ or, on occasion, snobbery]. People are entitled to form opinions, but only if they have given all options a "fair hearing". A matter of taste from then on. I am aware that your list of entertainers have generally a wide following. My wife certainly shares many of your tastes in music, I know.


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: C-flat
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 02:40 AM

I think it's the ability to communicate the message or emotion of the song that's more important. Like you, I'm left cold by the Streisand/Dionne/Houston style of using ten notes when one would do. I can appreciate the vocal gymnastics but they might as well be yodelling for all they're communicating.I'm sure you'll hear from their supporters soon enough, it's all a matter of personal opinion of course. Emmylou Harris-anti establishment?......Nah! You'll be fine! *BG*


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: Bert
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 02:46 AM

Enjoyment. If the singer is enjoying singing then that comes across and even a complete beginner can be more enjoable than an established professonal who is just going through the motions.


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: rich-joy
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:12 AM

Yes, Bert - I agree with you.
My answer would be :
FEELING!!! One who moves you emotionally : one who could be singing the phone book (or your laundry list!) and still move you!!! And that has nothing to do with "having a good voice" or even being technically perfect. Those things are not worth a brass razoo if there's no Feeling or Enjoyment or Passion behind the Singer singing the song!!!
Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: Deckman
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 07:04 AM

VERY GOOD THREAD! I want to contribute to it, but it will have be a bit later. Thanx for posting it. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: GUEST,Geordie
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 08:34 AM

It helps if they can carry a tune and refrain from screaming to express emotions....Mariah Carey, Whitney Housan ,The Spice Girls and so on are guilty of this kind of thing. On the other hand, Celine Dionne can sing but I dislike her music. Maybelle Carter can't sing and I love her. Other "non singers" that I admire Billy Bragg Bob Dylan,John Prine. Frankie Armstrong must be one of the worst singers of all time...but she is grand. The best bad singer however, has to be Leonard Cohen....and he is wonderful.


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: GUEST,vixen @ work
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 08:47 AM

Boyoboyo would I like to have the answer to this one!

Of course, no one singing style will please everyone...

but for starters, I imagine a great singer needs to have: sincere emotion, clear enunciation, true pitch, interesting repertoire, and elegant phrasing.

Singers we like to listen to, however, might have any combination of these traits. *Great* singers, I think, whether for opera, pop, rock, soul, or folk, need all of them.

fwiw, my $0.02!


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: tooligan
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 09:02 AM

To sing from the heart not from the head. I think thats why I don't like people reading their words.

However, I also think that the choice of material is important. To be credible, to be able to sell a song, I think that the singer has to convey some experience of the song. There are songs I love hearing but would never sing because I couldn't feel them.

I also don't particularly like to hear songs that have no credibility and there are plenty of them in Scotland, especially those which gloss over an historical event with cliches and assumptions.


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: GUEST,Owain
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 10:20 AM

Vixen hit the nail on the head. One needs to have all those elements to be considered a 'great singer'. There are people with 'great voices' ala Barbara/Celine that are considered 'great singers' and certainly convey emotion, but the emotion seems manufactured/contrived. Versatility would be another consideration.


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: MMario
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 10:32 AM

vixen - great singers *can* (and probably should) have those qualities - but I think the TRULY great singers are those *lacking* enunciation, pitch and phrasing who *still* can rivet their audiences attentions.

few and far between


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 12:20 PM

"Great" is a matter of the taste of the listener, as others have stated. Remembering Les B's thread about female voices, I think it is true that people hear sound differently. Emmylou Harris' voice makes me cringe, it is so pushed up into her nose. Love Jean Redpath's singing, as well as Leon Redbone, but Willie Nelson's nasal vibrato drives me nuts. Taste will change over time, too, as we gain experience in listening. Taking voice lessons myself changed completely the way I hear singers. Until I studied breathing, phrasing, etc., I never picked up on things before that I can hear now when I listen to a singer. I do agree that a technically good singer can leave you cold if the song comes across mechanically with no heart and soul to it. The current pop trend of "styling" (singing in a quasi-gospel style) and the out-of-air-little-girl voices of some current singers turns me off. Guys who push their voice out of their natural range (usually trying to sing too low) make me cringe, too.

Alice Flynn


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: GUEST,peg
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:18 PM

MMario;

I think I know what you mean; I place Sean Tyrrell and Dick Gaughan in this category (though I love their voices, too).

peg


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 04:55 PM

I usually answer this question with, "You're a good singer if, when you begin your song, everyone stops talking and listens. What pleases me most is that magic moment (rare), when the silence around one is complete- when your audience gives the feeling of holding its breath. Then, you KNOW you're communicating.


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 05:23 PM

Man is that a subjective thing! For me the ability to convey the emotional impact of the lyrics is key to a great singer. Bob Dylan does not have a great voice in my opinion but damn it, when I listen to his songs I am enrapt by the emotions. Secondly, they have to be convincing . In that I mean they have to convince me that they believe in what they're doing with the song and their music. We have all heard "musicians" and "singers" who are technically credible but you can tell they're just there to collect the loot promised them. (Somebody mentioned the Spice girls and I would add Brittney(SP) Spears et al.) The late Eva Cassidy is a good example for me of a great singer. there is raw power and emotion in everything she does. The only song of hers I haven't found convinciong is her cover of "Over the Rainbow" Aretha Franklin and Lucinda Williams have that raw power and emotion in their works also. But again, it is subjective and that's what makes these discussions such fun. Kindest regards, neil


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 05:30 PM

Oh, I think this is absolutely a matter of personal taste. There is no yardstick here, except for maybe the ability to stay on key...and even then, for certain genres of music, it's thoroughly unnecessary. Much extreme Heavy Metal has no actual melody at all, just a lot of screaming...yet there are those who have their "favorites" there as well.

I could tell you who I think is a great singer, but that would only tell you who I like, not who is actually a better singer than anyone else.

For me, as you mentioned, the ability to emote seems more important than training and absolute control. But then again, my Father might disagree with this, being the classical music fan that he is. So even there, it is subjective.

So, there ya go! No answer at all from me, really. ;D


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 05:53 PM

I like your description, Jean. I can relate to that. It calls to my mind the difference between hearing a studio recording of singing compared to being in the same room with a singer, hearing their voice live.


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 07:31 PM

It was a long quote, so I'm unlikely to type the whole thing again. But, related to this subject, check my post under "Do I have to prove myself daily?"

Steve


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Subject: RE: What makes a great singer?
From: DougR
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 09:17 PM

Anti-establishment? Perish the thought, Steve! You wouldn't want to be accused of THAT! :>)

DougR


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