Saturday, 11 December 2010

[Vocal Profile] Patti LeBelle

Vocal Type: Dramatic Soprano
Vocal Range: 3 Octaves 3 notes and a semitone (Bb2-E6)
Whistle Register: No
Vocal Pluses: LaBelle is distinctly known for her explosive, powerful and incredibly emotive voice. Having started her long-standing career in vocal groups such as ‘Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells’ and ‘LaBelle’, this singer has built an excellent level of musicality in regards to harmonizing. A skill which has served her well, even once a solo star, thanks to her fondness for duetting and collaborating with others. A notable pairings was that which occurred with Cyndi Lauper when they sang Time after Time. Here, LaBelle showcased her skill to fuse her own vocals with another's in a way that was both complimentary and sympathetic to her duetting partner's own voice. Considering the natural power that lies behind LaBelle's instrument it shows the great skill, control and restraint she has as a singer.

The lower extremities (Bb2 – E3) can sound somewhat less projected in comparison to the upper range, with this area tending to sound dry and distended. However due to her impeccable technique the notes sound healthy and well placed, if not entirely full. As the voice ascends towards the mid-range it quickly thickens connecting the voice to the mid-range.

In the mid-range LaBelle’s voice becomes somewhat fuller, more dynamic and takes on a notable and distinctive sound. This part of the voice is entirely unique to LaBelle in that not only is the voice full and powerful enough to cut through an orchestra, but it is typically deeper and more fulsome when compared to other sopranos. However due to LaBelle's excellent artistry she can alter the sound to best fit the material she is singing, for example on Oh People LaBelle displays a softer more nuanced edge to her voice in comparison to her Two Steps Away tribute where this section is more full, pronounced and direct.

The head voice and upper range is where LaBelle displays her skills as a vocal behemoth. This area, including the belting range, is incredibly powerful , full and elastic. Again displayed in her ‘Two Steps Away’ tribute, LaBelle shows an uncanny ability to flip straight up into high octave belts, all the whilst adopting an impressive technique that allows her to hold high notes with great ease.

The rare ability to project a full-sounding belt, right up to the soprano C6 is an incredibly impressive feat, and LaBelle has consistently shown able to do so with apparent ease. This upper-register extends right up to E6, which is marked with a dramatic, rounded and potent sound.

Overall, LaBelle is an exceptionally adept technician who has honed her skills via decades of experience in the industry. With exceptional control over every aspect of her voice- including its dynamics, tone, timbre and phrasing- she wields it with freedom and an instinctive edge. Able to hold notes, jump threw registers, use interesting and complex melisma, and perform vocal tricks (like octave-spanning glissando), it is little wonder that Patti is revered amongst singers and non-singers alike. It's also due to her technique that she has maintained much of her voice as she has aged, including her ability to heavily load belts in the upper regions. Though there has been a slight deterioration in power, she still remains a vocal force to be reckoned with.

Vocal Negatives:The nature of LaBelle’s powerful upper octave belts can be somewhat off putting to some, for example her performance of the Star-Spangled Banner displays her attacking style that can be a tad overbearing. Also the characteristics of the voice as a whole can be an acquired taste, particularly in the mid-range.

Thanks To Stuey for the Update!!





65 comments:

  1. i love her voice in high tones.

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  2. Great Power in the High Rgister

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  3. ...you couldn't possible speak ill of miss patti? Well allow me. Patti lacks vibrato...controlled vibrato. And her singer/screaming are almost one and the same. How's that?

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  4. Phenomenal singer, but you couldn't think of a negative? Sometimes she's shouty.... If you can come up with a negative for Kelly Clarkson you can come up with one for Patti. Love Patti, and your blog by the way. I am enjoying going through all of my divas.

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  5. I appreciate you taking the time to do so and comment

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  6. lol. thanks

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  7. Ah.. Yes. Probably one of the most vocally talented non-classical singers I've ever heard. 

    I remember recently watching her performance of Over The Rainbow from her One Night Only tour. Comparing it with her performance of the same song at the NYC Apollo in 1991, I was amazed. Other than the obvious darkening of her voice due to age,  it still gave me shivers. The C6's in head voice were amazing.

    She does have controlled vibrato, both in head and chest resonance/voice. I would hardly call her singing screaming. But those that do probably have not heard her earlier recordings and performances. Her recent performances I do believe, is subject to those criticisms. I do agree that she does tend to sound shrill at times, especially when she forgoes vibrato and projects her voice with full might. She also does tend to let her voice get a tad uncontrollable, especially with high chest belting in the D5 to G5 range.

    Her voice has of course, weakened along the years, but even with the aging, her voice is still astounding enough to rival that of Jennifer Hudson as well as that of Whitney in her prime. Believe me, I've taken piano and followed her singing note by note in some videos. I was amazed that in her 60's, she was still able to belt a G#5, a truly gifted dramatic soprano in modern music I might add. 

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  8. Thanks for that thoughtful comment. Her vocal profile is in need of an overhaul and expansion and your post gave me some great points!

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  9. You're welcome. I believe in trying to comment in polite and constructive ways. Unlike some people that I will not mention, who spout rude comments because they're offended that their favourite singers have negative qualities. Lol. 

    I recommend listening to this video of Patti singing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH3R2Kh9GDk . I think she was nearing 50 then. She reaches a G5 at 1:33 and ascends to a Bb5 at 1:35 so effortlessly. Of course the operatic C6 at 1:50 was a total eargasm. :D

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  10. I think personally the only negative I could find is she needs to work more on her head voice. I did a little research on her after reading this to see if she was really as good as this says and i must admit, she is expertly talented - but far from perfect. Everyone has weak points to their voices because if they didn't, there would be no comparison because everyone would be perfect. So as said before, she has a weaker head voice (and in no way do i mean weak) than her full voice - on occasion, sounding too shrill and overbearing. Hope this helps

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  11. Also, i think another negative is that in every song of hers - live that is - she belts an awful lot and i don't know about anybody else, but i was bored after a few songs.

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  12. hahahahaha her chest voice is incomparable 
    i think shes not only an incredibly talented person but she is also humble and genuine 
    - nice on the vocal negative lol

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  13. That's right.  You better not write one flaw on MaMa Patti, or we are gonna get you.

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  14. I just stumbled on this...

    http://youtu.be/iPooE7lW_iU

    My dear lord this woman has one incredible voice. She is one of the very few singers that I would immediately label 'Dramatic' Soprano for sure! The power just pours so effortlessley out of her.....Jennifer Hudson should take note, this is  how its done!!

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  15. OMG STUEY! You are brining all these profiles that deserve updating to my attention. I think I'm gonna have a stroke! lol

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  16. Hehehe sorry, I couln't resist...It's becoming an addiction...I need rehab me thinks lol

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  17. Sillysally775 April 2012 23:26

    Hi again!
    I'm not sure whether she has her place here, but what about another Patti? As in Smith? Saw her in concert last October, she was then pushing 65, and, well, OMG!!! Maybe not so much of a range though. Dunno, but I'd certainly like to read your analysis on her voice.

    Thx again for this wonderful site DD

    Gaëlle

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  18. No flaws for Patti Labelle? Nobody is perfect. I can come up with a lot of weaknesses in her voice. She's one of the most amazing singers to ever exist but that doesn't excuse her from having flaws of her own. Her tone quality? Her upper belts? Nothing?

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  19. This whole thing needs redoing. Feel free to contribute. Will update...eventually..lol

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  20. does she has whistle register????

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  21. nope! But a really strong head voice

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  22. too bad..she has such amazing potentials, but unfortunately she completely lacks of musicality. She is so full of herself that she completely forgets about the melody..and this is when she starts screaming..like a psycho mother yelling at her kids.Yes, all moms can hit these notes the way she does. Her national anthem perfomances is a proof of that(I laughed so hard). And I am not a hater, not even a fan of any singer. I just never got the chance to listen to her live and I spent today 5 hours listening carefully to her live perfomances, because I heard so many about her wonderful voice.I was so disappointed. I'm sorry I wasted so much time on her.

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    1. You need to listen to her and Cyndi Lauper singing Time After Time and you tell me where she lacks musicality. The answer is she doesn't. You can't adlib like that without musicality.

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  23. idc because in my eyes patti is flawless

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  24. Serendipity.-19 July 2012 15:26

    Patti really has no faults in her technique, she can keep a nice even mix up to D6 and maintain vibrato up to the soprano high C when belting. And her glissandos into the higher reaches of her range are astounding. Not to mention her head voice, I'm sure she could knock a hole through a brick wall with one of those considering how much power she has behind them.
    Patti's only fault is musicality, in a stand point of technicalities though she knows what she's doing.

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    1. That is incorrect. Her musicality has shown when she covers other people's songs...its on her own songs that she takes complete liberty (a machismo and bombastic amount of liberty) with and can care less, but listen to her and Cyndi Lauper sing time after time and tell me she lacks musicality.

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  25. Serendipity.-3 August 2012 03:19

    Actually Patti is still able to sustain up to C#6 in her 60s, her voice while it has weakened still stands strong and is one of the best examples of preserving the voice over the years through proper technique :)

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  26. You could speak ill of Whitney or Aretha, but not on Patti? Tone quality, agility of the voice (her runs), incredibly shrilly tone. Except of her belting technique (and mixing technique), the rest is truly atrocious. Personaly I couldn't say a negative thing about Aretha or Whitney (whose voice was compared to a stradivarius by Time Magazine)

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  27. For here to have such power at her age means that she knows what she is doing

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  28. Since when is someone's own vocal style "full of themselves"?


    Simply put, her vocal style is not your cup of tea. Nothing more.

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  29. It always seemed to me that Patti attacks notes the same way pop singers of her beginning era did. She hasn't changed the way she sings, it's all still original to the period she came up in. She hasn't adapted and changed like most singers.

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  30. James Wonder6 June 2013 20:56

    and that's why her name is ,,queen of soul''? listen, there is no belter like Ms. Patti... she can kill vocally Ms. Aretha anywere anytime/but I must say thet Aretha Franklin is the best singer off all time /

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  31. James Wonder6 June 2013 20:58

    cuse me but you have no years:D she is in top100 abot R.S.

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  32. James Wonder6 June 2013 20:59

    she can hit C6 in full voice..:D

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  33. James Wonder6 June 2013 21:11

    you're right... Ms.Patti is the best voice ever!

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  34. I don't think the R.S. list is much to go by, they missed out on many quality vocalists.

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  35. William Monk7 June 2013 02:46

    You contridict yourself.

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  36. Are you saying that's a good or bad thing?

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  37. Are you going to then a year later? Lol

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  38. Potong Pasir MRT at the doorstep, residents can easily access almost to any destination through.
    the interlace condo

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  39. what separates patti labelle from artist of her time and even those half her age is that she is a trained vocalist. Its obvious due to that fact that her voice has lasted the test of time, tell me what other singer whos been singing for as long as she has can still hit those same notes and so beautifully. I love patti labelle shes not my favorite singer probably my top 5, but you cant deny her vocal ability and training. Whitney, aretha, gladys, none of them can compare to what she does now 50 plus years later.

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  40. Serendipity.-29 June 2013 14:43

    The main reason Patti's voice is still functional is because she is a dramatic soprano (quite a large one at that), those voices are incredibly hard to wear down. Her technique has helped, but technique alone is not the reason. Look at Barbra Streisand, her technique is second to none, but her voice declined as welll. But Patti's voice has declined a bit, just not greatly.

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  41. She is a superb example of what would be a dramatic soprano in the classical world -- in fact one of my go-to contemporary examples. Very talented woman, extremely emotional singer with a great deal of power. She's technically rather sound and for her to still hold her own on the stage at this age is a testament to her talent and skill. At times when singing her own songs her musicality goes out of the window a tad in the name of vocal passion, but she doesn't lack for it, especially when she covers songs which are not from her own discography or when she sings with others. Her attacking style is a signature -- you either like it or you don't.

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  42. Time Magazine said that Adele had a 5 octave-vocal range too.... If Time Magazine said something doesn't mean its true...

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  43. High Priestess of Tearin' Shit Up

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  44. If Time magazine says anything..check and double check would be my advice. But I agree with Whitney being overpriced like a Stradivarius. ;-)

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  45. i really like patti. i think that she's a great vocalist and i prefer her voice than aretha. maybe patti would have been more famous if her material was more marketable.

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  46. William Monk13 July 2013 01:35

    Love the update Stuey

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  47. Thank you kind sir! :)

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  48. I agree with most of that except maybe the last bit - what Whitney, Aretha and Gladys had on their side were nicer tones (I know tone is subjective but there are far more people who prefer to listen to them than Patti). Aretha and Gladys' voices have not waned a lot either due to their good techniques (although Aretha's lifestyle choice of smoking a lot didn't help a great deal). Also, Aretha's belting is just as good as Patti's, maybe just not as high, resonant or as powerful.

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  49. she is full dramatic soprano or wagnerian soprano ?

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  50. probably only women in the world who have better voice than xtina

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  51. She is one of the few people over all time who have ever had a perfect voice. She is still slaying with her incredible belts and unbelievable range. I love Patti's tone, it makes her voice more emotive to me. When she sings it's like she's speaking to you, it gives me the chills. She is superb, I think she's one of the greatest voices of all time.

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  52. Patti Labelle has the most unique voice ever.

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  53. Lots of singers hv better voices than christina's....

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  54. Now if you guys want to talk about a TRULY GREAT voice, it's THIS woman. She's often slept on. When people call Ariana great, think of this woman & you'll easily dismiss that claim. This woman has a great voice. Superb. Everything about her voice is God-tier.

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  55. thedigblackbick30 November 2013 17:38

    MY GOD. MISS LABELLE! This woman can BELT like no tomorrow. Love her power, her resonance, and the attitude she brings when she opens her mouth.

    See what I mean @ 3:42 till the end.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPf6s8B-roI

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  56. Mariah, Celine, Whitney, Aretha, Ella, Tina, Barbra, Etta, Janis, Cher, Adele etc.

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  57. Adele, really? Neither her voice nor her technique is much better than Christina (and not having better technique than Christina is something you should be worried about)

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  58. Ok then, Mariah, Celine, Whitney, Aretha, Ella, Tina, Barbra, Etta, Janis, Cher,etc. lol :P

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  59. A lot of people (including me) have an issue with her tone and blatant lack of subtlety in her singing, which is I think fair. Too many people have an issue with it for it to be dismissed as nonsense.

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  60. I feel like she screeches

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  61. Patti's grown on me. I don't often visit her performances by choice, but honestly? I think they're entertaining lol. I actually think her love of what she does really shines through in her performances (you can't stop her smiling some of the time) and honestly she's kinda funny when she goes all cray - it's a different sort of entertainment than I usually go for with my singers...but anyway yeah I respect her hugely. She has mad skills.

    I also like that she seems to really enjoy sharing the stage with other singers. You don't get that feeling from all diva's when duetting.

    I don't agree with the line that says there's been a decline in power. Honestly, I don't hear it. Certainly not enough to mention anyway.

    I have a possible negative beyond the usual 'her aggressive style's an acquired taste'. When she ascends her top belting range and holds the note, her vibrato is really really slow. It's consistent, but very slow. It kind of gives off the same feeling of a car alarm or something. This national anthem performance (second half especially) I think illustrates the point I'm trying to make.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxGK2Shp8po

    But that could be a deliberate effect. IDK.

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