It’s a Man’s World

Little Christina Aguilera, with her Blonde-blonde locks, in her rail thin body, sang the “you-know-what” out of “It’s A Man’s World”, made famous by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, at the 2007 Grammy’s. You can see it on YouTube if you want.

She sang very well, and she didn’t hold anything back. I wouldn’t imagine that her rendition of the song would stand up to 8 shows a week on Broadway, but for a once-in-a-lifetime performance, she used everything she had. I would like to ask the teachers of singing who think that the 24/26 Italian Arts Songs are necessary to developing a strong vocal technique how those songs would have applied to what she was doing or helped Christina be OK. I would actually like to ask her, too.

I wouldn’t have thought that this song could bring an audience to its feet when sung by a caucasian female, and I would have been wrong. I want to know if she could sing “Nessun Dorma” (like Aretha Franklin did) and get the same reaction. Probably not, as those who know the song would still be disturbed by this kind of rendition and those who don’t wouldn’t know the difference……

I write this, yet again, because we had another discussion the other night with some colleagues about classical training being all you need, and classical training being different than any commercial sound because of a style, or the singer’s talent, or the formant frequencies shifting (by themselves, I guess). No amount of arguing changes their minds. Even aural examples are heard as being “almost the same” (when they were totally not the same). My head spins.

If you have the “talent” to sing like a pop singer while training to be an opera singer, good for you. That’s like learning golf so you can be better at tennis. It might work, in that they both require good eye/hand coordination. But if you are like most people who want to learn to be good at tennis, and you approach a tennis teacher who takes you out to a tennis court and puts a tennis ball and raquet in your hands, you would feel better, no?

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3 thoughts on “It’s a Man’s World”

  1. I stand at the end of 10+ years of school, looking back on all that I have learned as a teacher and singer. I find that I am learning the most about what I want to teach, now that I am out of school!

    I have been diligently researching for my DMA paper on female belting, spending time on the phone with a CCM pedagogue or two. I’ve learned more in the course of these phone conversations, than I ever learned in school about contemporary singing and how to go about teaching it.

    My situation is frustrating in that so many CCM pedagogues are offering these wonderful workshops for singers and teachers, and I don’t have the vacation time and funds to get there. I’m hoping for that new job over in management to come through soon…Maybe next year I’ll be able to afford some trips. Meanwhile, I try to find any written material which will help me become a better teacher, so I can help my students sing like a star, and still have their voices at the end of the day.

    Latest discovery – you really do need to start right out with the CCM sounds. Just because I managed to crossover from classical technique doesn’t mean this is the best way to teach these sounds! I guess that means I’m finally in your camp, Jeanette! I finally got it! I did a happy dance when this clicked for me, and my students are thrilled.

    One of the “suggested listening” comments on my DMA paper basically tells the reader to turn on Hank Williams, Jr. singing “All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight.” I said that if you can’t listen to this and think, “Man, can he sing!” then you don’t need to be teaching CCM. Would you agree?

  2. Oh, Christina…

    Some day I’ll get it through my voice teacher’s head that just because I really do like the 24 Italian Art Songs doesn’t mean I don’t still like Christina’s music better!

    Until that day, I guess I’ll stick with Per la Gloria…

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