Sue Duffield | Singer, Speaker, Humorist | Sue's Blog : Sing With Me
A little girl's attempt to fit in. She has a deeper voice than most. She finds her way. It's paid off big time...
In a much simpler time, my New Jersey family (the Crane clan) gets together at Uncle Elmer's house. We gather around the piano and sing until the wee hours of the morning. This is where I learn to sing harmony. This is where I feel the inborn connection of singing from the heart and not just from the vocal cords. My grandmother (Anne Crane Beatty) insists that I learn how to sing alto. This is a command that I treasure, no doubt. She not only bangs out the notes on the piano for me, but she sings the part. She smiles and raises her head up and down, as if to flow with each note. Then she says, "Don't worry. You'll feel it. Listen to the melody line first and then listen for the part underneath the melody." I hear it.
My mother always sings the melody. She's a soprano. Sometimes Aunt Ruth finds her spot too, singing whatever part is left. So, I am determined and destined to fit in somewhere. I search and find my home - the alto part. My voice is deeper than most little girls I know. I am so happy to find my place in the lower timbre. I am nine years old. And it is 1964.
Patti Page, Rosie Clooney, Marian Anderson, Nancy Wilson, Ethel Waters, Karen Carpenter and later - Ann Downing, Jeanne Johnson, Gloria Elliott, Marilyn McCoo, Kathy Triccoli and Oleta Adams would round out some of my favorite early and present influences. Great women with beautifully deep voice ranges. And all great enunciators too, never questioning lyrically what they're singing about.
So where am I going with all this in 2013? Here it is:
The greatest compliment a singer can receive (in my opinion) is when a listener says, "I love your singing. I love your tone and texture. I understand every word. But I especially love that you sing in a register where I can sing along with you too!"
There it is. The key. Many worship/inspirational/contemporary songs are difficult for most women to sing. Too high. But when they are keyed down to a lower register where a worshipper (musically inclined or not) can comfortably sing, YOUR song then becomes THEIR song. And if your ministry in music is truly about others, like you say, then this should register with you.
Sing your songs; do it with excellence. But get around the piano again. Teach, reach and enunciate and by all means, sing your songs so others can sing along with you. Together.