Her Voice | porchlight - Indiana Public Media

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Her Voice


St. Cecelia Building, Grand Rapids, Michigan

The very first human voice most of us ever hear comes from our mothers, and maybe sooner than you might think. After 24 weeks in the womb, it is thought that we begin to notice and react to sounds coming from the outside world.

Understandable then, that when adults start talking to infants in the first months, they’re encouraged to pitch their voices high and make their sentences musical. The raw sound becomes soothing, inviting, and somehow even more personal. It’s a voice you’re naturally drawn to and might even begin to trust.

This is perhaps one reason that whenever corporate and governmental institutions present a difficult message to the general public, it is often delivered by a female spokesperson. Bad news is less jolting and can be absorbed more easily without edges. For many listeners, that softer tone translates to kindness and caring.

One day, I was walking into the post office to collect my mail and passed by a woman addressing an envelope at the table in the lobby. Standing just behind her, clutching her winter coat, was a little boy maybe 18 months old. He was still a bit unsteady on his pins but very eager to use them. As Mom focused on her task, the young man fixed me with a curious gaze. With my hat, gloves, and shoulder bag, maybe I reminded him of a cowboy or some storybook character.

He started my way – for about six feet or so. His mother never turned her head or stopped writing. “Now Everett,” she said gently, “you stay close”.

Everett stopped instantly and I do believe he may have smiled slightly. He then executed about the cleanest half-pirouette I’ve ever seen at that age and walked it right back.

Keep in mind that Everette likely understood only his name in that sentence and obviously that was more than enough. So as we play these selections, the tone you’ll hear; soprano or alto may seem familiar even if your not aware of who’s singing. In a few cases, you might not understand the words either, but because it’s her voice, you’ll know they’re meant just for you.

Song, Artist, Album

At Last, Etta James, Essential

Crazy, Patsy Cline, Collection

Opus #1, Anita O’Day/Gene Krupa, Uptown

Let Me Off Uptown, Anita O’Day/ Gene Krupa, Uptown

Trav’lin’ Light, Anita O’Day, Trav’lin’ Light

Just One Of Those Things, Anita O’Day, An Evening With      

Oh, Lady Be Good, Ella Fitzgerald, Best Of Songbooks – Ballads

A Case Of You, Joni Mitchell, Blue

Guilty, Bonnie Raitt, Takin’ My Time

Weren’t We Fools, Susannah McCorkle, Easy To Love

I Never Loved A Man, Aretha Franklin, 30 Greatest

Four Last Songs, Jessye Norman,  Strauss - Four Last Songs