Young, at the age of only eleven, feisty and with all of her heart, she was always singing. But to her she was only trying, and she wanted to be good at it so bad. She asked me once, “why can’t my voice sound like everybody else’s, and why do I have this scratchy sound all the time?” I sound like I’ve always got a cold or a sore throat or something. I said, “yes, you do, but I like that sound.” It’s so unique, it’s different and you are hitting the right notes. Don’t you know there are a few singers with that scratchy sound that are famous because of it. They made it work. They made it perk the interest of those who were able to promote a unique ability, simply because it’s different. I like different, sometimes all it needs is a little technology, or rather, some perfection of its own artistry. But she didn’t understand, she was only thinking of how she wanted to sound. Only being eleven, all she knew was her dream to reach a perfection of clear beautiful tones with so much clarity, that would make her sure of herself, which wasn’t a bad idea. I just wanted her to acknowledge that the different, unique style in the voice she had could also win her that success. Louis Armstrong was kind of a scratchy vocalist. Lead singer in Sister Sledge had that unique ability as well, and other vocalist. Some artist use that like a special affect in expressing words, like riding around notes in a scratchy way in their songs. Sometimes it sounds kind of sexy, depending on the words. In the end, I told her “just don’t stop singing”.
Being a first-soprano, in the upper range myself, I’ve always appreciated the low keys I couldn’t reach, or just wasn’t good at doing. I love hearing people with deep base voices. Those very, very low keys. I always thought women who can sing that low had a very sexy sounding voice. Most music lovers I know were always excited to listen to those base singers like: Melvin in the Temptations, Barry White, Isaac Hayes, and other’s. Bing Crosby could hit such low keys it seemed impossible, and he did them beautifully. Just being different though, and good at it can draw enough attention that would have people chasing you with competitive offers to promote you just because you’re unique, especially if you’re good at it. That is, if they’ve got that kind of ear. I’ve got that kind of ear, I can hear good talent. I can hear possibilities in a vocalist.
Several years later, I’m standing on the platform at a train stop, waiting for a train. As I’m waiting I hear a beautiful voice singing, from a little further down the platform. People do often perform in public, mostly with instruments, but this sound drew my attention because the notes were so clear, projecting such a clarity that it was carried through the wind. I began walking toward that singer, and the closer I got, I saw a familiar face. It was her, when she turned to look in my direction, I believe she was surprised to see me too. I said, “that’s a very beautiful sound I’m hearing, I’m so glad you didn’t stop singing, and now your voice is how you wanted it to be.” All she could say is “Yep”, with a smile.
I believe determination starts from the heart, and it feeds your imagination with such a passion of motivation, you work at it until you defeat the challenge of your own approval rating. Until then, well, nothing less is quite good enough.