Post by: Montrez RamboJessica Reedy may not be a singer many of you have heard of, but in the gospel community she is well regarded, mainly because of her extensive lower register. Is she a rare contralto or one of many low mezzo-sopranos commonly mistaken for contraltos in popular music? Let's take a look at this performance to get a better understanding:
Right off the bat, Ms. Reedy gave us feminine but low tones hovering around the upper middle third octave. At the 59 second mark, she stoops down to a G2 with resonance, support and a masculine color. That's followed by an A#2 (around 1:10 mark) and a G#2 (around the 1:25 mark).
Beyond that, the voice gives way to her middle register, with supported C4s and D4s. She ascends up to G4 to B4 territory where her voice starts to show some strange characteristics. Her middle register picks up power at around D#4 which is typical of a mezzo-soprano. However, as she ascends to G4 and above, she treats the area of her voice the way a mezzo-soprano would treat the D5-F5 region of the upper chest.
What does this mean? It could mean a number of things. If Jessica was a true mezzo-soprano her middle register would have a wider width without tone suffering as early as A#4. However, if she was a true contralto, she'd have much more power around the C4 and D4 area of her voice. One thing to keep an eye on is how easy her voice becomes distorted when pushed. This is the sign of a light-lyric voice.
With these peculiarities in mind, I'd conclude that Jessica is a very low and very light mezzo-soprano fast tracking her way to becoming a true contralto by the time she's forty. The reason ? Keep these points about a contralto in mind:
- It takes contraltos a while to develop. True contraltos generally don't develop until they are in their late 30s or even later. Jessica is only 28.
- Contraltos have shorter middle registers than mezzo-sopranos and sopranos. While a mezzo-soprano might have an equally as dark and rich voice as a contralto in the lower middle, she'd have more elasticity up to E5/F5. A Contralto would treat A#4s and B4s like top notes while a mezzo-soprano would do the same around E5 and F5, sometimes F#5.
- Contraltos middle registers start early, high tenor early. They can project strong chest tones as early as G3 at times and can deliver mid-belts as early as B3 where a mezzo-soprano would be able to start her midbelts as early as D4 if her voice is robust enough for it.
- Contralto's have cavernous voices throughout their lower and middle range. It can make the voice sound androgynous all the way up to the highest upper-middle note.
With that being said, this is not a be-all end-all conclusion. Ms. Jessica could just be a youthful and underdeveloped contralto.
Opinions are welcome in the comments below!