Friday, December 1, 2023

You Know 'Em When You Hear 'Em

There are certain singer's voices you can recognize right away. Johnny Cash comes to mind. His voice is not quite gravelly but it is not smooth. It makes him extremely popular among common folks.

 I also think of Bob Dylan who has a nasal slur that makes him difficult to understand sometimes. And Della Reese had such a powerful beautiful voice. Leslie Uggams was another powerful voice. 

Perhaps Whitney Houston should be considered by herself. She had so many hit songs. I Will Always Love You was a huge hit for Dolly Parton who wrote it. Whitney made it even bigger.

Then there are the 'crooners'. My personal favorite is Sam Cooke. It is so easy to fall in love listening to You Send Me. Julio Iglesias has the same quality but he is no Sam Cooke. Smokey Robinson when he sings Ooo Baby Baby melts my heart. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby also fall into this category. I think I will place Elvis Presly here too although he probably deserves his own category.

In the early days of Rock and Roll we had some distinctive voices. Big Mama Thorton sang Hound Dog before Elvis. As far as I am concerned Chuck Willis does the best version of C C Rider and of What Am I Livin' For. 

La Verne Baker brought fun and bounce to Rock and Roll with songs like Jim Dandy. Theresa Brewer followed in like manner. Their voices and songs just filled me with happy energy. Brenda Lee and Tanya Tucker could do it too. 

There were early groups that are memorable. The Platters are high on the list. The Coasters are in my memories along with The Temptations and The Miracles. The Beatles are also deserving of their own place. Prince is special too.

There are the screamers like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith has screamed so much he has ruined his vocal chords.

Sarah Vaughn, Kate Smith, and Ethel Merman have memorable voices. Sarah Vaughn had a tinier voice than the other two but they are all memorable.

When I think of Big Bands I think of Louie Prima. He not only had good music but he was not stuffy. He and his band had fun together and with the audience. Brian Setzer has the same energy.

The singer of many western movie theme songs was Vaughn Monroe. You know his voice the moment you hear it.

I have omitted a lot of musicians. Michael Jackson has no category for instance. Jerry Garcia is known for being part of the Grateful Dead but he has one of the scariest voices I have heard. And I mostly stayed with American voices so those from other countries will just have to wait.

Who are your memorable favorites?


  1. I agree with all the performers you have named. There are many more whose names I do not know, who I heard on National Archives recordings.

    1. I know what you mean. I had to leave off so many. Hank Williams pops into mind first.

  2. You have listed a great many singers I also enjoy, Emma, and another couple to add for myself would be Frank Sinatro (but not in his later years) and the incomparable Billie Holiday, Rosemary Clooney and Ella Fitzgerald. I also liked Perry Como and Andy Williams whose voices were so relaxing. Sam Cooke tragically was gone way too soon.

    1. All of those are good choices. Beautiful voices every one.

  3. Great singers with variations of choices they make.indeed it makes a colourful and vibrant bouquet: )