Saturday, October 31, 2009

Twenty Five Great Female Vocalists (Alto, Contre Alto) with Links

I have always particularly liked female vocalists with alto or contra alto voices. I don't know why really. Maybe it is because of the more melancholy nature of the alto voice. Anyway, I've put together a list of 20 favorite of these female vocalists (pop-rock-country - not "classical")) and offered a link to a corresponding You Tube video - preferably live performances when possible. I couldn't find a live performance for Joan Armatrading's The Weakness in Me," so it's just vocals and lyrics there. No doubt studio versions of some of these songs are better and purer, but I can't post them legally.

If you know of a better video of the same song send it my way. I know I've left out some great ones too. I want to make it a "Great 25" so please make some suggestions.

Many of my favorite female vocalists aren't on this list because their voices are higher - remember that.

When I was a kid I had a major crush on Marilyn McCoo, so I had to include her. I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

These are VERY roughly in order of preference. KD Lang will knock your socks off.

25. The Cranberries - Linger

24. Fiona Apple - Criminal

23. Mama Cass - Dream a Little Dream of Me

22. Brandi Carlile - The Story

21. Adele - Rolling in the Deep

20. Marilyn McCoo (5th Dimension) – One Last Bell to Answer

19. Karen Carpenter – We’ve Only Just Begun

18. Odetta – Careless Love

17. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Passionate Kisses -

16. Annie Lennox (Eurythmics) – Sweet Dreams

15. Natalie Mains (The Dixie Chicks) – Top of the World

14. Stevie Nicks – Beautiful Child

13. Connie Francis – Who’s Sorry Now

12. Florence + The Machine - Shake it Out

11. Judy Garland – Over the Rainbow

10. Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane) – White Rabbit

9. Carole King – Natural Woman

8. Etta James - At Last

7. Linda Ronstadt – I Will Always Love You

6. Gladys Knight – Midnight Train to Georgia

5. Natalie Merchant – Wonder

4. Tracy Chapman – Baby Can I Hold You

3. Patsy Cline – Walkin’ After Midnight

2. Joan Armatrading – The Weakness in Me

1. KD Lang – Crying - or maybe even better, Hallelujah


Anonymous said...

Karen Lovelace sent me the link.

Thanks for putting this together.

If you are going to make a list of the best Altos, it seems that you'd have to include Etta Jame..."AT LAST " comes to mind as a stand out but I invite you (I wish I knew how to provide a link) to listen to the two CD's that she made in the middle nineties " Golden Lady"- (The songs of Billy Holliday) and "Time after Time" - a collection of standards.

Richard Beck

Joel said...

Dear Richard,

I love both Etta James and Billy Holiday. I actually had Etta James in the list with a clip chosen. As she got older her voice certainly got deeper, but I liked this older clip and I was not sure whether her voice at that time or on that song was considered alto. Same with Billy Holiday. I had her down, and listened to 3-4 songs, and had the same question. I am not brilliant in these things.

Joel said...

I will add a link to Etta James singing in the 90's, because she was certainly an alto then! And what a great voice. I'll find a clip of Billie Holliday singing in a lower register and get that in there too.

Unknown said...

Love Mrs. James and Mrs. Holidays voice.
Altos Rule!