Judy Garland

All of us who are of a certain age have seen “The Wizard of Oz” many times. The shot of Judy Garland standing outside her aunt and uncle’s farm singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in her sweet young voice is deeply etched in my ears and mind. This truly free, unpressured natural sound more or less doesn’t exist any more and that’s a shame. Yes, there are lots of soft breathy characterless voices out there and also an entire army of belters who can wail with seemingly endless power and stamina, but where are the Judy Garlands? Where is that sound…….not a belt, surely; not a classical head sound (contrast it with Deanna Durbin, Garland’s contemporary who was a true soprano), and yet very distinctive in its own way.

The emotional honesty in the voice, the directness of its power in this kind of singing is unlike anything else. You cannot get it by sampling, overdubbing, multi-tracking or any other kind of technological maneuver. You cannot manufacture such musical communication because it arises out of a melding of voice and body that is inexorably united. Garland was her voice and it showed all the many ups and downs she went through as she lived her tumultuous life. By the time she was in her 40s, it was, like Judy, sounding tired.

I miss this kind of singing. If it’s out there, I can’t find it. Perhaps you can help me. Is there anyone singing in an authentic sound, a unique, personal sound, that is honestly filled with emotion and heart that isn’t manipulated or bland? Help!!

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3 thoughts on “Judy Garland”

  1. Christine Ebersole comes to mind. I have heard her sing in just the way you describe. Her singing can be very old school in that sense character voices aside. Her ‘Will You’ from Grey Gardens was sung in this way.

    Another singer is the much lamented Nancy Lamott. I hear her as having a ‘real’ quality, full of heart, with the ability to move the listener.

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