Female Singers I Enjoy

I'm not going to discuss Frozen. Yes, "Let It Go" is a great song. Okay, moving on . . .

Again, I am most impressed by those singers who are actors as well as singers. However, this list includes more "pure" singers. Still, the singers I chose have range and vocal individuality.

I get a huge kick out of Reba McIntire. The South Pacific Concert is one of my favorites. One of the things I like about it is that the singing style--feisty country for Reba and pure baritone opera for Brian Stokes Mitchell--matches the characters' personalities. The music director did a fantastic job "complementing" them. (And Reba is a powerhouse, despite being a "popular" singer.)

No offense to Emma Thompson (who is one of my favorite actors), but Angela Lansbury knocks any musical number out of the park, even if she can't belt quite as strongly as she used to.

I can't mention Angela Lansbury without mentioning another grand lady of the musicals: Julie Andrews. Julie Andrews's musical accomplishments are so effortless, it's a shock to realize she can no longer perform an Angela Lansbury. It's much to her credit that her effortless elegant and poised persona remained intact despite her loss.

In terms of singers who sound like themselves, I enjoy Judi Dench, and she would definitely fit into the first list since singing is not automatically linked to her career.

In addition, I am a huge fan of K.D. Lang's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." In my first draft of this post, I talked more about why. Since hearing Colm Wilkinson's version of "Hallelujah," I've decided the song deserves its own post!

Last but not least, I really love "The Rose" sung by Bette Midler. If a singer can't turn you into a marshmallow inside, what's the point of the singer?


Joe said...

I'm fairly picky about non-Pop singers. Oddly, though, even many extremely accomplished singers can do pop. In the "I didn't know she could sing" category, Kirsten Bell still stuns me. It's not just that she has an amazing voice, it's how effortlessly she shows it and the emotion she brings. One of my favorite links is: https://youtu.be/R8MUkjn1ol0 (which also shows of the talents of amazing daughters of the director (the teen Anna) and song writer (child Anna). If you click on other videos you'll hear Lopez (song writer) sing and she's very good.

One problem is when singers have wildly different abilities. Lea Salonga is such a good singer, that she can make good, but not great, singers sound worse than they are (see the 25th Les Miserables concert for an example of this--same as when Wilkinson sings in the show, though I'm not a huge fan of his non-musical theater work.)

Joe said...

BTW, I ran across a partial theory of why classical/operatic/musical theater singers have a hard time with rock and pop is that they over-enunciate. Hearing the words is critical in opera and often important in musical theater. Not so much in rock/pop where slurring or even dropping words is acceptable, if not intrinsic.

The other things I've noticed is that the songs of the former group tend to have more drawn out notes. (And the obsession with vibrato; I shudder.) Thus, when covering rock/pop, they tend to slow the tempo and then sing in a way that makes the tempo seem even slower. A stab at a more cohesive theory is that for rock/pop singers, the voice is but one more instrument, not the focus.

Katherine Woodbury said...

Speaking of wildly different abilities, I've been listening to Colm Wilkinson's Broadway & Beyond. He is excellent with the Broadway pieces (of course). He belts out the rock/pop pieces with no problem (and I do like Cohen's "Hallelujah," which has an unique placement in American music history). But I honestly can't tell if most of the rock/pop pieces are any good since they weird me out so much. My brain is so busy going "But that's 'The Wind Beneath My Wings'--why is he singing that?" it never gets around to the music. I'm sorry about the type-casting but eh, it's a fact of life.

Interestingly enough, I do think Wilkinson knocks the country/Appalachian stuff out of the park: "Country Roads," "Tennessee Waltz," "Whisky in the Jar." The Irish burr fits in perfectly (since Americans probably sounded more like Wilkinson in their early days than they do now anyway).