Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Your thoughtful comments ...

Thank you all for sharing your opinions regarding aging singers. I hope others of you will take the time to tell me how you feel.

Surely, the singer alone must decide whether to continue or not. If the voice has deteriorated but his or her name alone can fill the venue, then the audience arrives to pay tribute to the years of listening pleasure fans enjoyed over the decades. For myself, I find it so uncomfortable to hear a colleague struggling, I simply refrain from attending the performance. Often, highly influential, professional critics will make every effort to praise the singer's mature and sensitive reading of a lyric, i.e., " ... Can't hold a note, but even a sing/speak treatment is so effective, reflecting as it does the artist's optimistic vigor in spite of the odds." I myself cringe and squirm, sigh and weep.

Regarding Ella Fitzgerald, I experienced the great privilege of travelling with her on two of her late 1970's European tours, a period when her lower register exhibited the first signs of a widening vibrato. Once she came off stage with the sound of the audience howling for yet another encore (which would have counted six in all), glistening with damp proof of exertion and beaming in triumph. I told her I heard a lot of Ben Webster in her low notes. She grinned, said "Really?", and gave me a hug.

I believe Ella lived for those moments. She was so admired and adored, not only for her remarkable skills as a jazz singer, but her humility and gentle demeanor entranced us as well. For Ella, I can only imagine how happy she was to scan her next itinerary when her manager's office had finalized all details for yet another long concert tour. I like to think her stage wardrobe was in a perpetual stage of readiness, that her passport was packed, her music library was arranged, and her musicians were as eager as she to go on the road again.

With Ole Blue Eyes, I'm sure he too loved the pure physical act of singing, with the accompanying thunderous wave of love and adoration bestowed unconditionally. I never saw him in person, and I'm glad I didn't having read various accounts of his stutter-step performances and reliance on tele-prompters during the late years. That would have devastated me. (Aside: My all-time favorite Sinatra album is "The Wee Small Hours". What's yours?)

Scroll down, click "Comments" below and tell me what you think.

1 comment:

Bill Crow said...

Carol, I think singers who love to sing should keep singing! If age diminishes the voice, it also adds to understanding of the song. Of course, someone like Pete Seeger or Harry Belafonte may not want to sing any more because the whole voice has disappeared, but those are special cases.
I'm speaking as a singer myself. I gave up singing professionally when I became a bass player, because I don't enjoy doing both things at once. But I've been a singer all my life, and now, at 83, I've made a vocal CD (no bass playing). I wish my voice were what it was forty years ago, but this is me now, and I enjoy singing, so I have to put up with the flaws.
I found a wonderful young guitar player to accompany me on the recording... Armand Hirsch is his name... 20 years old! Didn't notice any generation gap.