One of the reasons why Whitney’s singing was so distinctive, was that she was gifted with an innate talent. Her agility and unique style of add-libbing, was enhanced because she could think on her feet, making her a master of intricate improvised vocal runs,which is where you go up or down in quick succession, based on scale.
In her body of work, you see her frequent use of improvisation. This way of singing comes spontaneously, it has no specific or scripted preparation.
Whitney’s improvisation style goes back years to black gospel music, back to what is known as “religious fervor”, which means singing in a way that exudes strong heartfelt, sincere feelings.
Its the ability to sing and express enthusiasm, passion, love, and devotion.
Whitney Houston had the ability to turn gospel and soul into pop music gold.
“Religious fervor”, is often expressed with urgency, to sing as if you’re on fire, to go deep within and connect spirituality to a realm, where your pleas, supplications and requests can be expressed. It’s a way to use the voice to appeal and be in direct communication to God, the creator.
It all started further back than we think. The song writer Thomas A. Dorsey (July 1, 1899 – January 23, 1993) “the father of black gospel music”, the writer of the song “Take My Hand Precious Lord”, was one of the many writers of that era, that wrote in this style, which was all about a personal communication with God.
In this video example of “religious fervor” he tells his story about what inspired him to write the song: “Take My Hand Precious Lord”, sang by Mahalia Jackson.
Here's a second example of “religious fervor”; in this video the Mississippi Mass Choir sings another example to show you what I mean. Its the type of music that connects with your spirit. “Grace And Mercy”
Take a look at this next example, at the royal wedding of Megan and Prince Harry. Notice the hush, the shift in the energy and the atmosphere created by the song "Stand By Me". You can sense the choir's desire to give the gift of song to the bride and groom on their special day.
Whitney's Personal Struggles
In Whitney’s latter years, when her voice was clearly in need of rest. Her hectic touring schedules and her own personal struggles etc, all took its toll and drew concern.
In the video you can still hear the strength in the lower range of her voice, but the is clearly a struggle to replicate her agility and vocal stamina, breath control has somewhat diminished, along with a possible inflammation or health issues such as pre-nodules, however, it didn’t stop her from trying.
Whitney Houston live in Brisbane, Australia 2010.
Sad as some might say about her Brisbane performance, but no one can take away her phenomenal achievements, and the long list of singers that came along after her, that openly admit that she was their influence and inspiration. Many of them using her vocal template as a catalyst for their own vocal style. The list includes: Beyonce Knowles, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keyes, Jennifer Hudson and Adele, to name just a few.
Whitney truly has The Vocal Touch. Her body of work has and will continue to bless us all with decades of hearing her sensational singing.
Along with all her loyal fans, I Will Always Love her music.
PS - If you are looking to get started on your singing career, I would love to help you. I’ve had Platinum records with major labels, toured the world, made guest appearances, recordings and vocal contributions with artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John, James Brown, Boney M, Michael Bolton.
So, let's get you started:
Every journey starts with a first step…
Here's To Your Success!