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Tuesday, June 26. 2012
And, amazingly, the Yankees don't want me.
I mean in the musical sense, of course. And, after a thorough, exhaustive 2-minute search through Wikipedia, it appears the precise nature of my affliction is known as 'relative pitch', or, in medical terms, relativepitchitis. That is, I can hear a note being just the teensiest bit off.
My first clue that I was crippled with this life's burden was when a group of us rowdy college students went up to Seattle and visited the World's Fair, which had taken place a few years earlier. Space Needle and all that. There was a machine that would issue a tone for a few seconds, then you tried to match it exactly using a variable dial. I was the only one of five who could do it, and did it three times in a row.
It's been pretty much downhill ever since.
When I walk into a night club with a live band, everyone else is thinking, "Hey, what a great lead guitarist!" Me, I'm thinking, "His high E-string is a little flat! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!"
Cursed, I tell you.
Which brings me to Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion and Sarah Brightman.
And the brightest new star in the summer sky.
With that in mind, I would note that the first two singers I'm going to highlight were both around long before Auto-Tune was invented, so these two are the real deal. As for the third, I somewhat doubt that 'America's Got Talent' allows the contestants to use it.
So, poor cursed me heads into adulthood, and with no Auto-Tune around, everywhere I turned I was surrounded by vocalists who were just the teensiest bit off. What a nightmare.
But, shimmering there on the horizon, was one glowing exception.
I dubbed her The Voice of a Generation, and for two decades she stood alone as the pinnacle of perfection when it came to alleviating the abject misery we poor afflicted relativepitchitis sufferers must endure.
For twenty years, with hundreds of singers passing by, no one ever replaced her.
Until one day in 1990. I was working out in the garage and had the radio on. I remember hearing the first few lines from "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" by Celine Dion and just standing there, staring at the radio, transfixed. Back in the days before Auto-Tune, there simply wasn't any way around it:
You either had the gift or you didn't.
The following clip is one of the oldest files on my computer. There are better, later versions on YouTube, with quality graphics and sound, but I've always treasured this clip because it's back when she first got confident and feisty on the stage, but wasn't famous and Las Vegas glittery yet. And when someone sounds this perfect live in some crappy auditorium, you know you're hearing something special. To my poor, afflicted ears, she doesn't miss a single note.
There in the garage I thought,
Meet the new queen.
Like Streisand before her, for two decades, Celine stood at the top of the mountain, and while — like Streisand before her — I never particularly liked her songs, I'd sit there and listen to whatever schmaltzy thing she was belting out, just to give my poor, afflicted ears a break, content in the knowledge that for the next three minutes they would be spared the agony of awaiting the next cringe-worthy note.
For twenty years, with hundreds of singers passing by, no one ever replaced her.
Until the other day. I was just horsing around YouTube, looking at some Sarah Brightman clips while putting together my Phantom post, when I stumbled upon the following.
Now, remember what I said earlier about either having the gift or not?
Sarah Brightman, the singer in the Phantom post, does not have it. She's what's referred to as studied, in that she knows the microtones so well that she can hear and hold them, but they aren't there naturally, as is so obviously displayed with Streisand and Dion, above, who hit the highest notes absolutely perfectly from the first, seemingly without notice or effort.
It's that "from the first" part that's the giveaway. Great singers like Brightman can get mighty close, usually nailing it, and, when they're just the teensiest bit off, they know how to immediately compensate. Streisand and Dion virtually never need to compensate. That's the difference.
We of the painful affliction relativepitchitis can hear this quick, tiny compensation.
And I'll show you why.
Ready to try out your new, improved, ultra-sensitive relative pitch ear? I'll tell you exactly what to listen for and let's see how you do.
There are three high notes in the refrain. Both singers sing them twice solo, six notes apiece.
Here's my scorecard:
1 - 6: absolutely nailed every one
1: sharp, reduced
Professionals like Brightman know their own voices so well that it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see Sarah look over that list and say, "Yeah, I always have a little trouble with high c-sharp. And you can see what happened on my first attempt, when I overcompensated."
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new queen.
I imagine others might agree that the most transcendental moment of the above was when she went back to her skimpy little girl's voice (and awkward body language) to introduce Sarah. The next time you're tempted to scoff at some scrawny 10-year-old claiming, "I want to be a singer someday!", that'll be the moment to remember.
As for the actual 'America's Got Talent' finals, I'm sure there were a number of relativepitchitis sufferers staring slack-jawed at their television screens watching the following, thinking, as I did the other day, that we were witnessing history unfold before our eyes. Or ears, to be more specific.
We afflicted sufferers had ourselves a new savior. With Streisand retired and Dion married and settled down, it was about time.
I apologize for the following repeat of the above song, but after
Hit it, kid.
But for the final proof that Jackie belongs in this exalted category, I offer the following.
Maybe pairing Jackie up against the likes of Brightman — someone who doesn't have the gift — was doing Miss Evancho a small disservice by not presenting her with a suitable challenge.
Let's see how she does against a goddess in her prime.
The above picture says it all.
The crown has passed.
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 09:00 | Comments (65) | Trackbacks (0)
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It took me 1,167 words to say the exact same thing. :)
I've always liked "The Babs" and never was impressed with Celine (that perfect pitch doesn't make up for the huge lack of soul in her music. It's more pantomime than performance).
Jackie is something else!
Here is her latest and by far greatest performance of her young life, Singing Con Te Partiro with Sumi Jo, in St Petersberg, Russia
The finale clearly shows why Jackie is considered one in a billion. A brilliant performance by two truly gifted Artists!
I saw this earlier. Sadly, the mikes weren't very loud, but it was still an impressive performance. While I'd say Ms. Jo has 'the gift', it's funny how Jackie just seems to eclipse everyone around her. Mainly because of her age, I s'pose. You just don't expect some scrawny kid to be that good at anything, much less operatic singing. What a wonder.
What were Streisand and Dion like at age 10?
I've found some Celine @ 15 but not @ 10 and have e-mailed them to you. I'm still not impressed with her. I'll see what I can do with "The Babs".
Interesting affliction, Doc. The young lady is a very real talent, and I'd like to hear her away from the over-produced schmaltz that TV people think is music production; you know, a live performance? Maybe just her singing without instruments . . .
There are two instruments I can't stand: 1. TV and 2. pianos. Even though I play guitar and Hammond organ, I can tolerate the way we need to play well with others and accommodate the awful Well Tempered scale. Guitars are flexible to a point (especially dobros, pedal steel and lap steel guitars) and the poor tone-wheel organ is locked into the tone relationships.
What is music to my ears is represented by some other scales, such as Just Intonation, which many old-time Uilleann pipes were tuned to. Once I listen to that for a while, I instinctively reach for my axe if a piano is playing! (If it's playing on a TV, even better - two birds . . .)
So, the question is: I'm wondering how you ear and brain react to different scale relationships, specifically the "thirds," which is one startling difference in the two scale systems I've mentioned thus far.
P.S. I'm not a real musician, I just play one on the radio
Well, I'm afraid this is where we take divergent paths. Two of my faves from the old days were Elton John and Nilsson -- both heavy piano players. I thought John did the piano thing perfectly. Outside of a few songs that were specifically honky-tonk, he rarely let the piano take over the song. The band was still, at its core, a pure rock band with three guitarists and a drummer. The piano was used more for 'fill' than anything else.
As for your question, if we're speaking of the chromatic scale, I can recognize all of the notes (seconds, thirds, fifths, diminished, augmented, major and minor sevenths, etc), but that's because I (1) have always enjoyed chord construction and (2) have something of a musical ear.
As for my affliction, I suppose it's as true with the above as with the major notes, although I've never put it to the test. But I wouldn't be surprised to find out it's not as finely-tuned to augmented and diminished notes, since they're designed to feel 'off', anyway. Hard to say.
My favorite note is the sustained second note. I love the emotion it adds to a line. Least fave note, major sevenths. Too jazzy for my West Coast blood.
Of course, the part I left out is that if we want to have music sound reasonably good in all 12 keys of Western music, then we need the Well-Tempered intonation.
In more primitive times (and on instruments limited to only a few keys, such as the aforementioned bag pipe, which is essentially a diatonic, as opposed to a chromatic instrument), we could make some of the intervals, such as the major third, sound even more harmonious. We still can use 12 tones to get from a low D to an octave higher, but we use a different mathematical formula, or method, to divvy up the intervening notes. Speaking of which - Note: you don't need math to make musical instruments, just a reasonably good ear.
So here is a website with sound examples: http://acoustics.mie.uic.edu/merit/lesson3/lesson3text.html
Here are a few sites that are stultifyingly boring (and they might cause Doc's attention to waiver for a nanosecond):
Dr. Mercury, meet Dr. Math: http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/52470.html
Wiki with links to other tunings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well_temperament
Early music site: http://www.early-music.info/octaves_tuning/tuning.htm
One more http://www.kylegann.com/tuning.html
Fun stuff to do with your kids: http://www.42explore.com/musicmnts.htm
Most modern keyboards and tuners can be set to these alternate intonations, BTW.
And, lest I forget, as Bruce said, thanks, Doc for bringing the young singer to our attention; I would never have heard her on the telebishun.
Interesting question by Steve & response by Dr. Merc. It made me think of Thelonious Monk, who apparently hated playing on out of tune pianos, which they often were in rough & tumble jazz clubs. Usually in studios that wasn't a problem, but not always. There a some recordings from the early '50's where the piano is obviously out of tune in a couple of places; rather than trying to avoid those notes, on some tunes Monk took the strategy of incorporating them into his solos. He hammers on them and surrounding notes, obviously contrasting how far out they are from the rest of the keyboard. It's pretty funny, like he's scolding the studio manager.
Can I suggest you listen to Jackie performing Ombra Mai Fu for NPR last year. The first link is to the original version, the second is one to which I have added some reverb.
Very nice! And I liked the added reverb. Shit, you'd think it would difficult enough to do this stuff in English!
Take a look just above you at 1.1.2
Your wish has been granted!
You're most welcome. I thought you might like to hear that. It's like Jackie says, "I'm living proof that miracles do exist!"
My Mom was trained in voice; in her prime she had very strong above-average chops but she wasn't great. She doesn't have perfect pitch, but she's a pretty consistent intonation hog the same way she's a consistent grammar nag. So when you wrote this -
Like Streisand before her, for two decades Celine stood at the top of the mountain, and while — like Streisand before her — I never particularly liked her songs, I'd sit there and listen to whatever schmaltzy thing she was belting out, just to give my poor, afflicted ears a break, content in the knowledge that for the next three minutes they would be spared the agony of awaiting the next cringe-worthy note.
I laughed because Mom was a huge Streisand fan, right from when she first emerged. Once, forced to listen to some schmaltzy thing she was belting out on a TV show, I pointed out the schmaltz. Mom: "Yes, I know. But she's so good!!
"Yes, I know. But she's so good!!"
Bwah-hah! Exactly! And I suppose instruments are the same way. I'm no fan of violin solos, but I'll sure as shit listen to some prodigy wailing away. Purity has to be respected.
OMG!!!!!!! Never watching TV (except for an occasional trash-action flick), I would have missed this incredible youngster if not for you, Doc. Thanks. Made my day.
Glad you liked. I admit, the last thing I expected that day was to find some scrawny 10-year-old that could hold her own against the likes of Streisand. That one spot in the first video where she introduces Brightman really trips me out. As I noted, that's the moment to remember.
David Foster says that Jackie has an old soul. Chris Farley of the Wall Street Journal thinks that maybe Jackie Evancho is somehow able to channel the voice from a past life. When Jackie performs on stage, you can easily see two distinct spirits. One is that of a child and the other is that of a mature woman. You can easily see the two distinct spirits switch back and forth on stage. Jackie is quoted as saying that something overpowers her when she sings and makes her feel very comfortable and very happy. This second spirit is actually very kind and is the source of Jackie’s perfect pitch and extraordinary voice. The older spirit is that of an opera singer named Helga Meyer. Helga Meyer was born in Germany in 1942. As a young woman, Helga married an American named John Bullock and spent most of her life as a voice coach at Martha Washington College. She sang for a short time with the opera in Saltzburg, Austria. Many say her soprano voice was as beautiful as Maria Callas’. Helga recently died of cancer in Arlington, Virginia on April 4, 2000. She died before she could have seen her oldest daughter Sandra win an Oscar for a movie called “The Blind Side”. Helga Meyer is the spirit that Jackie talks about that joins her on stage and sings with her. Jackie was born five days after Helga died.
I'm surprised that one of you jazz aficionados hasn't mentioned Mel Torme when you talk about perfect pitch. He may have been a rather plain man, but as a musician a genius, with a spectacular talent for perfect pitch, combined with a subtle skill with rhythm. If he had been prettier, he might have been more famous, but he's good enough for my ears. And what about Jo Stafford, whose recording with her husband, whose name escapes me, does something incredibly difficult for someone with perfect pitch. She sings slightly off key on the recording, and out of strict rhythm. A friend has the record on CD and when she plays it, I get goose bumps and the shivers. 've never been able to listen to it all the way through.
I seem to remember that Mel Tomre had the nickname, The Velvet Fog! My parents had stacks of 78s of the Big Bands from their teen years and stacks of LPs of MT, JS, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington, Perry Como, Dinah Shore from their early adult years!
I just listened to a Stafford song on YouTube ("You Belong To Me") and my poor, afflicted ears caught three or four slightly-off notes. In other words, an "excellent" singer, but not in the same ethereal realm as the three in this post. IMHO, of course.
Look for the comment down thread by Ehkzu - he posts a link to that Stafford parody album.
And you're right - one interesting measure of raw musical talent is the ability to play / sing badly on purpose and make it sound like you weren't doing it on purpose. Once you're good it's tough to fake being naturally bad.
The best movie example I can think of is Lili Von Shtupp in 'Blazing Saddles'. Madeline Kahn can actually sing fairly well, so her just-slightly-off-key singing in the flick was perfect.
Perfectly bad -- today's oxymoron.
Heh!! I had forgotten about that. Khan was generally great in those years.
I was also thinking of some of the numbers in "Spinal Tap" - some of the tunes are played badly for effect, some of the tunes are written badly but played perfectly!!
As it happens I was watching AGT and saw Ms. Jackie Evancho perform. It left me stunned and wondering, where did this extraordinary young talent come from? I do remember thinking the practiced "maturity" of her AGT debut was a bit off-putting. However, true stage presence comes with experience, and this was evident in her performance with Brightman. Will her voice get even better as she grows older? I'm no music expert, but age often seems unkind to singers, Brightman perhaps being an example of that. I have not followed Brightman's career, but her voice seems quite thin to me, that she could lose both some weight and the excessive vibrato she resorts to when she has a hard time reaching notes these days.
As for Streisand, I certainly liked her a lot when we were both much younger, less so as we grew older. As time passed, I lost interest in listening to her. I also liked Dion's singing, more so when she sang in French, much less so when she sang in English. In any event, as a photographer---since I'm no music expert---in photography terms what appealed to me was not just the "hue" but the "saturation" of their sound. Both of them were indeed blessed.
I was thinking about making that point in the post. Usually, certainly with males, a voice improves when it hits puberty, but maybe Jackie will go through some kind of 'reverse puberty' and her singing voice will turn thin and reedy. That's why I said "until further notice" in the post -- always one to hedge my bets.
I remember reading about Jackie Evancho on NeoNeocon shortly after her first performance on AGT last year and watching some of the early clips then. At that time, my response was pretty similar to the one Agent Cooper describes, being a bit put off by "the practiced 'maturity,'" as you described it; she seemed to me an excellent mimic, but I wasn't sure how much talent she'd have as she aged.
Having watched and listened to some of the clips here, though, I am much more impressed than I was then. The first clip that pits her against Brightman is truly eye-opening in the pitch and the quality of sound she produces, versus the vibrato and the other tricks that Brightman seems to resort to disguise the challenge posed by some of the notes. The last clip with Streisand is also impressive because of the way Evancho is able to use dynamics and to drift up to some notes in different registers, something that I thought only a more mature singer could master.
Listening again to Evancho's version of "O Mio Babbino Caro" on youtube just now, I think that the excellent pitch and clear sound quality are both evident, but what's missing is the richer quality of a more mature voice, such as those demonstrated by the "Bake Off" contestants a few months back. (Nevertheless, her version is definitely better than Brightman's version on youtube.)
re: Jackie being a "gifted mimic"
A mimic, by definition, approaches the skill of whoever they're mimicking asymptotically--that is, no mimic can exceed the skill of their master.
Thus an idiot savant pianist can play anything he hears--mistakes and all--but can't change anything for better or for worse.
So....who is Jackie mimicking? Her only actual model that she's seen is Emmy Rossum in Phantom of the Opera...but she's better than Rossum, who's no slouch.
Jackie's tone, phrasing, passagio, high end, low end, etc. all exceed Rossum's.
Re: her "practised maturity."
She acts exactly like a normal girl her age--albeit an intelligent, well-mannered one--when she isn't singing. She has never shown the slightest inclination to act older than she is in any way when she isn't performing.
When she is performing, she uses none of the tricks many performers use to connect with the audience. Her arm gestures seem to be mainly for conducting herself. Her face is usually absorbed in concentration, revealing the hard work she's doing to create that sound. She almost never smiles when she sings, for example, radically unlike Charlotte Church, who almost always did smile, regardless of the subject matter.
So I don't see her putting on airs or trying to be something she's not. Most tellingly, when she sings love songs she doesn't try to act like the lover--she acts like the storyteller singing about the lover. What some see as trying to look maturer than she is I see as her simply being completely serious about her craft--just as budding elite gymnast her age would be, or a young chess master. It's concentration you're seeing.
re: O Mio Babbino Caro versions
Jackie can't sing many genres of songs/arias. She doesn't have the sense of irony needed for a lot of jazz, for example, and she can't deliver the more hormonal aspects of romantic songs. Nor does she try, thank heavens.
Songs like O Mio Babbino Caro fall in that area where both she and physically mature people can both perform it, and do it well...but not competing with each other.
Jackie delivers pure emotions--longing, regret, joy etc.--musically, without the other stuff. I haven't heard an O Mio Babbino Caro that does what Jackie brings to the party better than Jackie--and vice versa.
Listen to the version she did at age 8, a capella, in her home, and you'll see what I mean, hopefully. It's her interacting with the music without any of the adult complications, for better or for worse. Personally I never tire of that version by her. She makes it no longer an aria from an opera about romance. She turns it into something more universal.
The landscape photographer Ansel Adams once said there were at least two people in every one of his photographs: the photographer and the viewer. Jackie's singing is similar--she depends on the listener's experience to react to her intimate musical understanding, thus producing the final experience.
So for the material she currently does, in the way she does it, she doesn't need to know the content she's singing about--just you. Her part of the job is the music--and she's got that nailed.
Jo Stafford's pop/jazz parody albums can be found on YouTube and Amazon under the names "Jonathan and Darlene Edwards." Her sendups of "I am woman" and "Staying alive" are screams.
Those wanting to find out more about Jackie Evancho can visit her official website at:
http://www.jackieevancho.com/us/home or a lively discussion group on Amazon.com at:
As for voices changing, puberty creates the larger voice box in the "adam's apple" of males, but no such thing happens to females, though there are some changes.
Mostly the damage is done by abusing one's voice at any age. All those girls braying "Tomorrow" in "Annie" for example.
Lucky for Jackie, her mother's a nurse and prioritizes protection of her instrument before anything else now. So Jackie always performed mic'd, singing well within her 3 1/2 octave range (she sticks to 2 1/2 octaves), and performs much more rarely than adult singers do and practices almost never--one of the advantages of being, apparently, an interpretive genius.
She's just returned from performing in St. Petersburg with a pair of famous opera singers. Plenty about that--and clips & whatnot--on the two discussion forums listed above, plus one in the UK devoted to classical crossover music in general at:
There was a 7 minutes segment on Jackie Evancho on the ABC TV news magazine 20/20. You can see that here:
The salient part is an analysis of her voice by an otolaryngologist specializing in voice, a Dr. Rosen, who says Jackie's physical singing equipment is unexceptional--in fact, since she's small for her age, her lungs are undersized.
Dr Rosen says Jackie's voice is actually in her brain, and in a very rare level of brain-body somatic integration, comparable to what you'd see in an elite tennis player like Roger Federer.
And since her singing is in her mind, she's not likely to lose what she's got now. She might move from lyric soprano to spinto or mezzo, but that's about it.
"Dr Rosen says Jackie's voice is actually in her brain, and in a very rare level of brain-body somatic integration, comparable to what you'd see in an elite tennis player like Roger Federer."
Rafael Nadal too!
Thanks for the superb rundown! Will check out the links later.
"Dr Rosen says Jackie's voice is actually in her brain, and in a very rare level of brain-body somatic integration,..."
So it's a neurological phenomenon? Not the actual plumbing? Is this what you mean?
And Dr. Merc, thank you so very much for bringing this amazing girl to my attention ... as you said, wonderful to be able to relax and know all the notes are going to be hit for the next few minutes ... a gift ...
re: it's in her wiring, not her plumbing?
Otolaryngologists give her a pharygeal inspection every few months to make sure the plubming's OK. One of these has been Dr Rosen, and he said--and says on the 20/20 segment--and her larynx is exactly what you'd expect of a child that age and gender who is not a professional singer.
So given that no other child that age sounds like her--none that can be found on YouTube at least (could be some kid in Afghanistan we'll never hear, of course), Dr. Rosen concluded that it's in her wiring, so to speak.
If this appropriate, here's a link to "Time To Say Goodbye" that is two years newer, from St Petersburg, Russia.
This time, it's Jackie Evancho and Sumi Jo, who is a world renown operatic Coloratura Soprano.
You might have an easier time downloading and THEN playing it.
Very nice! Terrible mike levels, but both great singers. Thanks!
The problem with hearing her singing is that all the pro-quality recordings of her tend to adhere to the Wall O'Sound school of accompaniment epitomized by producer/arranger/composer David Foster. Live, she performs with a small symphonic orchestra (usually a few dozen instruments0.
So hearing what she actually sounds like (and her articulation, if one cares) is a little challenging.
But NPR (National Public Radio) to the rescue. The featured her in one of their TinyDesk concerts, accompanied only by an electric piano.
She performs Ombra Mai Fu, in Latin, then Lovers, the theme song from House of Fly9ing Daggers, in English, then Angel, by Sarah McLachlan (an ode to a friend who'd OD'd), also in English.
This is the most unadorned concert of her to date:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLzzOwsu10Q (audio only)
Jackie's performance of Ombra Mai Fu in this concert is also available as a video:
It lets you see the unique phenomenon of her looking like an ordinary 10 year old girl during the long intro, then, as the piano stops, and she opens her mouth to pluck the opening note out of thin air, the musician that cohabits her small frame appears, only to vanish again the moment she stops singing and resumes being a nice little girl.
It's a bit unnerving to see. But you never forget it.
She does also appear to have an uncanny shape-shifting like capability that can seems as though she physically transforms her whole person while performing not just her voice. This can be observed in her performance of “Nessum Dorma” at the 2011 AGT Finale
While singing she appears almost as a miniature adult of maybe 10 years older, then when the song is finished back to her then 11 year old self. It is quite astonishing and evident in other performances as well.
Darling little girl, strong voice....and I cannot make out one d...n word she sings. It all sounds like waaaa waaaa mumble, mumble. I find it very frustrating and turn her off. Recently I have listened to some old elvis and sinatra recordings and marvel at how easy it is to hear what they are singing. It is not me or my hearing, it is the way she sings.
"some old elvis and sinatra recordings and marvel at how easy it is to hear what they are singing."
Yeah, well, see, they're singing in English. :)
She's only 10 years old in the clip. Her mouth will grow some more and enable her to better enunciate her words. It's having the gift that matters; everything else is secondary.
"Her mouth will grow some more and enable her to better enunciate her words"
All the same, great article and comments.
I was unaware of intelligibility being the knockout factor for listening to singing. By that standard, then, this would be ruled out regardless of who sings it, then?
Or how about this? I can hear the words clearly but since I don't speak a word of Bulgarian, I must turn it off?
Or this, which is articulated very clearly, but here again I dunno what's being said, even though I find it achingly beautiful:
And of course we have to rule out jazz scatting:
Lastly, how about the flute part Jethro Tull plays here?
It's a flute, so no words. Just a beautiful sound.
What's the difference between that and the sounds Jackie Evancho makes?
Conversely, every single word of this renditions of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is completely clear and intelligible:
But wouldn't you rather have nails pounded in your ears rather than listen to it? (and I'm a bit of a Star Trek fan)
You can thank the sound people for that. It had nothing to do with Jackie! The flawless beauty of "Con Te Partiro" with Sumi Jo proved that! Imaginer was the worst, sounding like it was made in a tin box, totally sterile sound, without an ounce of life! The piano sounded like some beat up old upright in the corner of a bar! The harp had no sing to it at all, just plink, plunk! Sumi Jo would have killed them if they had messed with Jackie's mike or the orchestra sound during CTP. It was a great triumph for both singers, and Sumi Jo knew they had nailed it! So did Dimitri!
about the perfect-pitch thing . . . , sounds like, careful what you ask for
It all depends on whether a singer has good relative pitch or not. Many singers that do not have perfect pitch have good relative pitch. Many that do have perfect pitch, also have good relative pitch. If you were only going to have one or the other, and could choose one or the other, good relative pitch would be preferred.
I don't care for Babs as a person, but her talent is undeniable - even to someone like me who couldn't hold a note in a bucket and couldn't replicate it with a tuning fork.
I personally prefer Jackie's voice to Babs'. It seems fuller to me. She is quite amazing (regardless what you say about her pitch, etc.).
Thanks for that!
I had unashamed tears streaming down my cheek. Beauty and innocence spring forth from a sometimes ugly world.
Thank you for bringing her to my attention.
mudbug ... I suspect that Jackie's voice will deepen a little when she gets older and gets more singing training. She has a lovely full sound. If she stays in the soprano range, she would be a dramatic soprano rather than a coloratura when she matures. Joan Sutherland, for instance, began her professional career as a dramatic soprano, with an extraordinary range. But when she married a fellow musician, a pianist who helped her practice scales and arias, he realized that she was most spectacular as a coloratura/dramatic soprano, and that's what she attained fame as. She made magnificent sounds, but I could never understand a word she said.
“She acts exactly like a normal girl her age--albeit an intelligent, well-mannered one--when she isn't singing. She has never shown the slightest inclination to act older than she is in any way when she isn't performing.
If you consider her engagement in the prepared interviews that accompany many of her appearances to sing at various venues to also be part of her performance, then yes I would agree with the above statement. In those situations she usually does conduct herself in mature manner that is atypical of children her age. In her more natural, unprepared condition, she indeed does not appear to be attempting to act older.
A good example of this can be viewed in the Backstage interview for “The View” at:
Another example of her not in performer mode can be in this clip of Backstage AGT Tour Boston
Her ability to “turn it on” for a particular occasion is not a negative attribute, but instead an indicator of professionalism that many an immature adult performer are also well versed in demonstrating.
“When she is performing, she uses none of the tricks many performers use to connect with the audience”
I am 50/50 on that. One can observe in watching footage of her concert appearances that she makes a deliberate effort to avoid eye contact with any audience members. However, often done in intervals between songs in which she speaks to the audience or engages in banter with the host, such as when accompanied by David Foster, she does conduct what might be described as a mild form of posturing intended to promote the “aaaah she's so cute” emotion from her audience.
This too is nothing out of the ordinary for professional performers but normal practice of promoting one's desired image in addition to their art.
Here's a perfect example of that for you.
Pure happy normal child, pure consummate professional singer.
Thanks for the link. I do understand how that interview in particular might be a favorite to yourself and much of Jackie's fan base.
Here are some more examples where she does seem very poised beyond her years, and beyond that of just an idealized "pure" giddy little girl persona and instead more so as a mature young lady.
Interview with hometown TV station.
Interview during 2010 AGT appearances
Interview at 2012 Canada's Got Talent Finale
Also an interview from TVNZ that I posted has a few revealing comments and attitudes.
I've always enjoyed that interview, and she does express some reservations about getting older, but now over a year later, she has less concerns about the future. After all, this is the career that Jackie chose when she was 8, and here we are 4 years later, with her just as determined as she was at 8, to succeed. I like her chances of success.
Her transition between consummate Professional and little girl is something to see and appreciate. Her interview with Sharon Osborn, is just pure little girl. The reverence she shows, for a Sand Dollar she found on the beach at Malibu is priceless, and she got so tongue tied, leading up to it. I thought she was going to bounce right out of the chair, when Sharon asked her about singing for the president.
Then she went out and performed a flawless "Nella Fantasia" in her consummate professional persona. she's the greatest pure voice heard anywhere, in the last 180 years.
In st. Petersberg, she proved to Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Sumi Jo, that she wasn't just one of those "got talent" kids they keep pushing out on the stage, as the next so called prodigy. Her elevated performance with Sumi Jo singing Con Te Partiro showed why Learned music scholars from all over the world, consider her a one in a billion voice. That performance earned her the right to stand on that stage, with these two great opera stars as an equal! When asked by the press about Sumi Jo and Jackie's Duet, Dmitri Hvorostovsky said "Excellence", twice in English!
Jackie came away from Russia with three powerful new friends from the world of Opera, in Sumi Jo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Sara Hicks, their conductor. To them, Jackie has more than proved her worth.
B. Gaines says:"I do understand how that interview in particular might be a favorite to yourself and much of Jackie's fan base."
B. Gaines, are you trying to say something here, because it occurs to me that since the majority of Jackie's fans are middle aged women, and I'm not middle aged or a woman, so why do you say that "I do understand how that interview in particular might be a favorite to yourself and much of Jackie's fan base." Would you be kind enough to explain why please?
That song and rendition is also one of my favorites.
I'm not sure if this one has been posted before, as I haven't had time to check all the YouTube links. It's taken from the PBS special and features Jackie in period costume with 16 year old Conrad Tao on violin and David Foster on piano. It show-cases Jackie's beautiful voice without being drowned out by a full orchestra. I believe she had just turned 11 when the recording was made.
Stand by for another round of complaints from people saying, "I can't understand a single word she's singing!!!"
Marvelous piece, and thanks for the post. And you were right. There was just enough orchestration to set the table, yet both stayed quietly in the background, letting her voice shine forth. Terrific violinist!
If you think Conrad is a terrific violinist, check out his piano playing on this one, also from the PBS special. It's in French, so you shouldn't have any difficulty with the words.
French?? Like, this crap wasn't difficult enough in English and Italian?? And yes, a wonderful piece. I like 'soft' piano like that. Someone up above knocked pianos in general, and I admit I'm not a big fan of them for anything outside of the theme song to 'The Sting', but this guy used it perfectly. It's only there for us relativepitchitis sufferers, so we'll have a baseline for our ease and contentment, knowing that for the next three minutes...
Actually, she has performed in English according to the announcer. Right before she sang a popular song, in English, the announcer pointed out that fact. So much for your telling me I can't understand her because she was singing in a foreign language. I am not as stupid as you suggest.
If I thought you were stupid, I wouldn't have included a smiley face at the end of my wisecrack. It was the way you phrased your complaint that brought it on. Hey, she's a 10-year-old kid -- cut her some slack.
Do you know who Jennifer Rush is? IMHO she's the greatest Pop singer ever, and that includes Whitney and Celine. I would be interested in how you think her pitch sense was in her prime which was the '80s.