I’m listening to They Say It’s Wonderful by the hypnotizing Johnny Hartman. It’s late at night. The sounds linger through the air and curl around my back. How I love that lush, velvety sound.
And once again, I’m won and would immediately trust him with my life, my banking codes and my mother’s jewelry.
Johnny Hartman is to jazz what Barry White is to soul. You’d throw yourself into his arms without thinking twice. He’s the quintessential romantic balladeer.
And the only singer ever to have recorded with John Coltrane. That album simply is a must-hear! It’s like zen therapy: Johnny’s stories & John Coltrane’s solos. Heaven on earth.
Now, what shall we pick from this amazing singer… I just love the quality of his voice, that colorful baritone – let’s see how we can approach that ease with which he sings.
When we sing we may have a tendency to work hard to produce our favorite sound. We pray that it is beautiful, full of warmth and full of color. Many singers have an allergy for a thin, strained sound. Let alone the much feared ‘break’ for female singers, when we go from the so-called chest to head register. Recognize this?
Luckily, there are many ways to overcome this – one way is to release the tension that was built up in your body. The so-called Alexander Technique can be of great help.
This technique, developed at the start of the 20th Century by the Australian actor F.M. Alexander (who had lost and regained his voice) focusses on your body balance. You’ll be amazed by the effect that being aware of the way you stand, place shoulders, neck or chin has on the sound of your voice.
If you try one thing today, stand up, and stand still for a moment. Yes. Now! ? Just be aware of how you place your feet when you stand still.
Did you stand hip width? With your toes directed straight, or more to the sides, or maybe directed inside? Straight would help you most, is what I learned.
Sing a line with all three possibilities. Hopefully, you’ll notice little differences? (If not, let me talk to Alexander again)
Want more? Then, the first thing on your list today: check for an Alexander Technique coach in your area and get some very useful tips to help you sing with more ease, more relaxation, and more resonance. Have fun! I might join you, by the way!
Now I’m off to meet Johnny again. (If only…)
My album tip for you:
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, 1963, Impulse! Records
Johnny Hartman on Wikipedia: