Showing posts with label dramatic soprano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dramatic soprano. Show all posts

Saturday 11 December 2010

[Vocal Profile] Patti LaBelle

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.