[ Radio ] [ Photo ] [ Travel ] [ Philosophy ] [ Music ] [ About ]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

50 Great Voices for NPR

NPR is trying to compile a list of 50 truly great voices from around the world and a range of eras. For the most part contestants seem to be singers, who usually performed solo, and had success in the last 100 years. I suppose that’s only fair. Singing with a group is very different than singing solo, which allows for more virtuosity and must stand alone as a performance. Also, we can only judge singers for which there is a significant record of their voices, so anything from before 1900 is probably out.

A while ago, I vaguely remember hearing about this, and thinking I ought to send in recommendations. Regrettably, I never got around it. Now, NPR is asking people to vote for their five favorite from the finalists they’ve selected. Predictably, since I didn’t submit any contenders, I was a little disappointed to see some, in my opinion, amazing voices missing. Notably:
Mariah Carey“I’ll Be There”
Buddy Guy“Out In the Woods”
Big Mama Thornton“Hound Dog”
Common“The Light”
Mos Def“Get By”
Ben Gibbard“Such Great Heights”

I give the songs as sort of a justification for why I think the singer should be included as a finalist. In each case, I think the song does a good job of showcasing their voice's greatness, and I have loved the song since the first time I heard it. Nevertheless, I did pick five of my favorites from the list NPR supplied. They weren’t overly thought out, though I have raved of my love for Aretha Franklin’s vocal stylings many a time before. Here are my picks:
Nina Simone“Willow Weep for Me”
Willie Nelson“On the Road Again”
Janis Joplin“One Good Man”
Aretha Franklin“Chain of Fools”
Roy Orbison“Go! Go! Go!”

Even though I voted less than an hour ago, and as much as I love me some Roy Orbison, I kind of already regret voting for him. I feel like I love him more for his rock and roll, as one of my favorite artists from Sun Records, than for his voice. I should have picked Louis Armstrong as my fifth. Damn.

Also, let me publicly admit that my selection is undeniably USA-centric. I regret that, but I have a good excuse. Because I grew up in the USA, I feel the most in tune with American culture, and consequently with American music. When I listen to music from other countries, I can be impressed, but I’m never moved. For better or worse, I take whether a singer moved me into consideration when choosing great voices. That said, I did almost Youssou N’Dour from Senegal. I first came across him while writing a paper on Afro Pop for a high school French class, but they also play him on NPR and XPN. If you're not familiar with his music, I strongly suggest you give it a listen.

So whether your rhyme or reason, go vote at 50 Great Voices: Help Us Choose from NPR. Who knows how authoritative this list will be considered? If it ends up being regarded as definitive, don’t you want your opinion included?

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment