Monday 22 August 2016

Declining voices: What's a Diva To Do?

Decline is an inevitability for all of us and everything. Physics even has a theory for it: The second law of thermodynamics. And our Divas, as magical as they are, are no exception to this.

There are some who buck the trend better than others, retaining a lot of what made them great in their prime. Barbra Streisand, Patti LaBelle and Donna Summer come to mind.

Others aren't so lucky but accept the limitations that time/overuse/ damage have wrought on their voice, adapting to their new circumstances.

Joni Mitchell is one such Diva. Once a soaring soprano, smoking and age knocked the top off of her range and kicked out the legs from under, sending it south bound.  But this didn't stop her performing old material, in many cases with the talented singer rearranging her songs completely to fit her new timbre.

On the opposite end we have the Divas who refuse to adapt to reality and still attempt old material with their changed voice. Is this a sign of hubris, or that of a kindly singer wanting to give their fans what they came for? Whatever the case, Mariah Carey seems to be the one most point to when discussing this kind of an entertainer.

(With a voice that's as changeable as Mimi's is, day to day, I'm not sure it's entirely fair to throw her into this category.  Compounded by the fact that she's admitted to recording songs "too high" in the studio, it may not be that time is her greatest enemy but her own artistry.)

Lastly, we come to the most extreme solution: retirement. However, this would usually only be in cases where the singer's voice is pretty much shot. For instance Julie Andrews' voice was destroyed by surgery and though she tried touring with it, it didn't go down well at all!

Luckily these cases are rare,so most Divas don't have to be that extreme. Still, what's a girl to do?

What do you guys think? What is the best way for a singer to adapt a changing voice to a static back catalogue?

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