I hope you had some great Christmas presents this year. I was lucky enough to be given a few albums for Christmas.
If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know I’m very keen on X Factor - a national singing competition. My favourite last year was an exquisitely voiced and highly talented, Rebecca Ferguson. Thank goodness she came second – and avoided the pressure and expectation of winning. Her backers have sensibly allowed her to take a year out to write songs and develop her voice for the heavy schedule of performances she’s undergoing now at the release of her new album Heaven - a copy of which I was lucky to be given.
I remember her first performance in the audition. She was so shy, she could barely look up from the mic to speak to the judges. As you can see from this YouTube performance, she still has a residue of self consciousness singing her debut single, “Nothing’s Real But Love”. And yet by some miracle, it hasn’t affected her voice.
Often anxiety can affect vocal quality. Your throat is the gateway of all you want to express. As a baby, whenever you were hungry, tired, frightened, angry or just plain lonely you expressed your feelings through your throat via your larynx. You voice was your primary source of communication. Your mother became well trained (if she wanted to be sensitive to your needs) in interpreting what your cries meant. Everything was clear and truthful.
However, as you started growing up, sometimes you expressed things that weren’t socially acceptable. Maybe you embarrassed your parents with your honesty – ” Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained wisdom”. Maybe your family avoided emotional outbursts and denied or suppressed their feelings. So as you grew, they greeted your feelings with disapproval or worse, laughter. Immediately this set up tension within you. It’s as though that expressive gateway got shut off little by little.
In shutting that gateway, your voice will have got distorted with tension. If it kept on closing, it got stuck. Emotions get trapped behind that half closed gate. Your shoulders, your diaphragm, your jaw, your throat will now carry that tension. Your posture will become cramped and misaligned. Your body language has learnt to become inhibited. You have learnt to be self conscious. You are shut off from your feelings.
Rebecca Ferguson has a talent that shines through her modesty. What is particularly splendid is how vulnerable and honest she sounds. It’s as though she has found a way to overcome her fears and express herself that catches a recognition reflex in her listener. Some of her reviewers on Amazon have been in tears on first hearing her new album. She’s found in her voice a channel, a conduit for her emotions rather than a barrier to them. And thanks to her self discipline and tenacity (she has entered X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent before and been turned down) as well as her quality, she generously gives us that conduit to connect with our emotions. She helps us reconnect and recollect ourselves.
That’s why she moves people to tears.