Music Monday: Voices

Music has always been an addiction of mine, and I listen to artists from almost every genre and from every decade.

I’ve always been drawn to artists who had unique voices. Some people love the perfection that a vocal acrobat like, say, Celine Dion provides. But I like hearing an artist’s story in their voice – or at least glimmers of their personality.

Musicians (like bloggers, politicians and…well, everyone) are all WAY more interesting and compelling to me when they speak in their true voice.

Like Nina Simone. Nina’s unusually deep and husky voice is one of a kind. (The closest comparison I could make to a contemporary artist is Cee Lo Green.)

Then there’s Marianne Faithfull, one of my favorite artists. Her voice tells as strong of a story as any of her lyrics do.

Here’s Marianne in 1965, when she first came into the public eye, with “As Tears Go By”.

Marianne’s life after that song was filled with a lot of darkness and a lot of challenges – as well as enough heroin and hard drugs to sustain the GDP of an entire country. THIS is Marianne today – an astonishing difference.

I’ve just discovered an amazing artist named Bettye LaVette. She’s a well known soul/blues singer who in 1965 (the same year Marianne Faithfull’s first single came out) released her song “Let Me Down Easy.”

Her voice already had some edges to it even then, but it’s definitely changed with age. In 2008 she brought the house down at the Kennedy Center Honors singing a cover of the Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me.” What she does with this song is amazing.

There are some interesting and quirky voices coming through today’s music as well: Bjork, Joanna Newsom, Colin Meloy of the Decemberists to name just a few.

Whose voice really speaks to you?

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