|Note: "Alto" should read "Contralto"|
The operatic contralto range usually spans from an F3 to a G5 but amazingly our lovely pop Divas can do better than that, with many of them demonstrating the ability to reach at least 4 notes below the lowest requirement.
Apart from the ability to reach an F3, contralto voices have other characteristics usually associated with them- though they are not always present- such as a smoky timbre, a lower access point to the chest register and a heavier weight to the voice. So celebrate this rare vocal type, below is a list of my 5 favourite contralto range capable Divas.
Note: Of course, in reality, comparing a pop singer to an opera singer is like comparing an apple to an orange so any opera aficionados don't bite my head off please...I need it for living.
5) Mariah Carey:
A singer who is associated more with the extreme highs of her voice rather than the lows its capable of. Her version of Stevie Wonders' You and I has Mariah demonstrating her contralto chops admirably, but she gains a lower place on my chart because some of the lowest notes she hits are produced by improper technique.
4 ) Lalah Hathaway:
Has a weighty, thick contralto voice, that though heavy, is still able to sing beautiful and complex melisma with ease.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Cher is a vocalist that is constantly overlooked. Her voice has a clarity that the other contraltos on this list do not and her chest register starts relatively low but, despite its weight, is still capable of hitting the fifth octave.
2) Sarah Vaughan:
Her contralto range was warmer and sweeter than any of the other singers on the list. The voice also had a beautiful smoothness, richness and an operatic like quality that was imparted to the voice via her exception control.
Her voice has "contralto" written all over it, producing the tone, timbre and colour most people would straight away associate with the lowest female vocal range. Out of all the singers on the list Toni's is the one that sounds best, and most comfortable, in the lower ranges of her voice .
Let me know of your favourite contraltos in the comments below!