I am not Steve Perry

I’m convinced after a recent Rock Band gathering, that there are 6 types of singing voices in this world.  Now, I’m talking the common folk.  Not Michael Buble or Celine Dion.  Each professional singer out there has their own style and range that makes them who they are.  What I’m speaking about are the folks like you and me, who belt it out in the car, who maybe only break their voice out after a few “beverages”, or those who will mildly hum along.  To us crooners of the shower, I dedicate this breakdown.

  1. The Confident Voice- This is the voice that comes out when you find it deep down in yourself.  I think maybe five people have heard mine.  It’s the one that can blow people away with its power.  It’s tough to find but you know it when it comes out.  And, yes, it’s not always perfect.  It can be pitchy, or have cracks and squeaks.  But it’s the voice that makes you want to go out on a stage, throw your arms to the side, and belt out that note that’s been buried down deep inside.  During a dream I had recently, I passed a dark stage, stepped away from the people I was with, went to the front of the stage, belted out one line from a Broadway show someone put in my head earlier that day, and held the final note for as long as I could.  After I was done, gave a little nod to the empty crowd, and went back to the group as if nothing happened.
  2. The Soulful Voice- Everyone’s got one.  It’s that raspy, breathy, deep voice that comes out during a blues song.  It’s that voice that doesn’t take a lot of effort to get out.  It comes from the back of your throat as if there are some marbles back there you’re trying to push the note through.  Sometimes there aren’t words that come out but the notes are usually there.
  3. The Imitation Voice- I think this is the voice most people use.  It’s definitely the one I use the most.  It’s the one that comes out during karaoke or Rock Band.  It’s the one used amongst friends.  It’s the safe bet.  It’s usually humorous as people try to do their best Steve Perry or Cyndi Lauper impression.  Favorite time for me to break this out was singing with a Jamaican accent to “Kiss the Girl” over the headsets while warming up for Little Theater shows at Canisius.  (Yep, just made a Little Mermaid reference.  I’m ok with it).
  4. The Finding the Words to A Song Voice- Person X in a group, “Oh, how does that song go again?”.  Someone other than me because I get them wrong half the time, “If ya liked it… da da da da.. ring on it.  If… ya liked it… THEN ya (said very quickly) should put a ring on it… All the single ladies…”  (Side story pet peeve: ever notice that when people are singing back a song, they skip over the different parts where there’s no words.  FYI- I’m hum that s**t out.  Be prepared.  You want me to sing back “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey?  You better be ready for a kickin’ hummed rendition of that guitar solo in the middle of the song.)
  5. The Pretend Backup Singer- Harmonies are a pain.  People I know can find them in a second, others like me take practice to make sure I’ve got it right.  I was amazed the other week at a local band that claimed to be playing “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas for the first time (they take requests from the audience during their show).  As they were sounding the notes out, he turned to his bandmates and said, “You got the low part”.  Head nod.  He turns to the bassist and says, “Can you get those high notes.” Confident head nod.  The crowd sees it and cheers.  Silence… and then as if Kansas was standing before us, “Carry on my wayward son”.  I turn in shock to the people I went to the concert with.  But this is the supportive voice.  It’s the voice you use during More Than Words to help out whoever took the main part.  It’s usually all over the place as you try to hit the harmonies but then end up just signing the main line just like the other person.
  6. Your Real Voice- It’s the scary one.  It’s the one that doesn’t have a lot of power but you try your hardest hit every note.  It’s not the voice you use to belt it out or become the next Rod Stewart, it’s that voice that can be quiet in the shower or loud at karaoke night when you’re not trying to imitate someone else.  It can be soft like when you’re in office signing along to the radio or loud like in the shower.  It can be all over the place.  In and out of different chords and pitches, cracks and squeaks as if you’re just hitting puberty…  But we each have it and I will always respect yours.  Mine’s not perfect so why should I expect yours to be. Know that if you break out in song (at appropriate times… Standing in line at McDonalds is not the appropriate time) and I hear it, I’ll be the one applauding you at the end.  You got up there and you tried.  Rock on.

Thanks for reading…


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