One of Rowan Manahan’s first posts of the new year was about finding your voice. It is, for most of us, our primary tool and yet we often don’t think about how best to vocalise our message.
Rowan mentioned a number of actors renowned for their fine speaking voices, all of whom I recognised except one: Anna Deavere Smith. (I’ve never seen The West Wing.) I did a quick search for her and, since it was on the quality of her voice that she was being recommended, I looked at this video of her speaking at a TED conference.
She has travelled America recording conversations with people and, in her performances, she faithfully replicates those characters. Truly breathtaking skill. She must have a wonderful ear to be able to mimic the (remarkably) various voices. The idea of a ‘cover version’ is very common in music, but it’s viewed differently when a singer mimics another. I was talking about this in a guitar lesson today – how, when we learn to play songs, the final step is to make it our own. It’s useful to study other players and singers to learn new techniques, but then there’s the extra step of finding your own voice. To me that’s the same thing as Rowan’s talking about – being believable and fluent in what you say, sing or play.
While searching for cover versions on YouTube, I found this wee dote, Sam Scott: