Friday 10 November 2017

JOJO - Fuller Soprano or Higher Mezzo-Soprano?

Post by: Montrez Rambo

Jojo is one of those singers that comes along and makes people turn their heads, Not only are untrained ears piqued by her vocals, but those with a vocal background also fawn over her abilities. She has a bright and coppery timbre, robust lower register, sizeable lower middle, bright and sheer upper middle and a rich upper register.

But what is her voice class though? Soprano has been tossed around as many a time as mezzo-soprano has. There's one performance that is tell-tale... Who's Loving you, Smokie Robinson tribute.

Performance breakdown:
Jojo, came out the gate swinging with a C5 run. She then went to a sizeable sustained D5. Around the fifty second mark, she sang another solid D5. A phrased F5 came about ten seconds later.

Around the one-thirty mark, Jojo began sustaining lower mid-belts hovering around A4. The belts were free with a bit of resonance and had hints of size. Shortly after was an ascension up the lower fifth octave to a climax round F5. The voice showed sultry fry-distortion at 1:39 before the F5. The F5 itself was tense and distorted (The I'm pushing out too much air kind), with a larynx raised a bit too high.

Despite the unhealthy F5, it wasn't too terribly strained and she was able to hit numerous F5s back to back throughout the performance. These F5s though, told a similar tale. Again, somewhat tense, distorted and a larynx on the rise.

With that being said, it is best noted that Jojo sings with a high and wide lifted placement combined with a kind of fry closure which gives her voice its signature brightness and character. She brings the sound more forward as she ascends, but doesn't manage her breath well at those heights, pushing the F5 out when she shouldn't really have more breath pressure than required to speak. At those heights though, it is understandably hard to sing, so this is not a knock against her. It's just stating an obvious point.

Audible fatigue could be heard beyond the two minute mark. The voice sounded more coarse. At two minutes, thirteen seconds, Jojo released her head voice. The register starkly contrasts the modal voice, being darker and richer, having a density only present in her lower middle and lower register.

She scaled down to around G3/F3 close to the two thirty mark, showing the density and richness the lower register and lower middle hold. Afterwards were a few more D5s, some solid head voice F5s and another down scale to the F3 region. She concluded with a sustained head register F5.

Now let's discuss Jojo's lovely voice, generally:

Even though Jojo has a very soprano-like timbre, her voice fundamentally is too low. I'm not discussing her lowest note or even her tessitura. I'm discussing her registration points or where she fundamentally shifts registers or shows behavioural traits associated with a certain voice type in a certain register.

For one, she shows signs of blossoming as early as D4 in her lower middle register. Her middle register has the most ease while maintaining volume around D5. Secondly, E5 showed signs of passagio issues yet to be smoothed over by the talented woman. Lastly F5 showed the voice would still bloom as she ascended but on the same token, F5 also was the area where she commonly shifted to the head register. This is a key sign that F5 maybe is a registration point, specifically since Jojo treats the note like top note territory.

For a soprano, that registration point would be a little higher around F#5/G5. That's not even discussing the colour of Jojo's Head Voice which isn't much soprano-like at all.

So, even though Jojo has an energetic, bright and elastic voice, it is safest to bet she is a mezzo-soprano probably of the lyric variety.

This is all just the best educated guess I could muster. The performance was great! The comments are open to discuss and please vote on where you think her voice is best placed!

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