Archive for Chaka Khan

Whitney’s 50th birthday: her 15 best live performances (cover songs)

Posted in Live Performances, Whitney Houston with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

Today would have been Whitney Houston’s 50th birthday, so to mark this date and to commemorate not only the fact that she was such a flawless and consistent live vocalist and performer but also the number of artists she looked up to and was influenced by, I have compiled 15 of her best cover versions of other people’s songs that she performed live (not ones she recorded and/or re-released, except for “A Song For You”, which she performed long before recording it). Whitney was amazing at taking other people’s songs, paying tribute to them and making the song her own with her own vocal styling that was usually always at least just as good as the original, as she proved many a time in her cover versions that she recorded over the years. I’ve just put them all here alphabetically rather than trying to order them according to how good they are and instead of me going on about each one individually, you can just sit and watch them in awe for yourself.

WhitneyHoustonAugust91963February112012

A Song For You

Whitney sings her version of this classic song, originally by Leon Russell (1991).

And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going (from “Dreamgirls”)

Whitney sings one of the most vocally challenging songs she’s attempted (1994).

Aretha Franklin medley

Whitney singing a medley of songs popularised by her godmother, Aretha Franklin (1997).

Diana Ross medley

Whitney singing a medley of songs popularised by one of her friends, idols and contemporaries, Diana Ross (1997).

Dionne Warwick medley

Whitney singing a medley of songs popularised by her cousin, Dionne Warwick (1997).

Gonna Be Startin’ Somethin’

Whitney singing one of her favourite Michael Jackson songs (1986).

Home (from “The Wiz”)

Whitney singing this song on her first televised appearance in 1983 (above) and again just over a decade later in 1994 (below) – pay attention to the vast difference, maturity and improvement in her overall voice and style in the two versions.

How Long Has This Been Going On

Whitney sings this jazz standard, written by George Gershwin and popularised by Ella Fitzgerald (1995).

I Am Changing (from “Dreamgirls”)

Whitney singing this vocally demanding song at the age of 21 in 1984 (above) and again in 1986 (below) – take note of the maturity of her voice, the improvement in her technique and her trademark style of playing with the notes and melody that had blossomed within those two years.

I Loves You Porgy/Summertime

Whitney sings these classics popularised by Nina Simone (1997).

Love’s in Need of Love Today

Whitey sings her version of this Stevie Wonder song (1994).

Lover Man

Whitney covers this jazz classic popularised by Billie Holiday (1991).

Never Too Much

Whitney mashes the lyrics to this Luther Vandross classic with the melody to “For the Love of You” by the Isley Brothers (1987).

Sweet Thing

Whitney singing (rehearsals) this Chaka Khan classic (1987/88).

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

Whitney sings this classic Aretha Franklin song (1994).

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Top Twenty Favourite Female Vocalists (11 to 20)

Posted in Female Vocalists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

Part two (of two) of my list of top twenty favourite female vocalists:

11) Minnie Riperton

Minnie-Ripperton

Type: Lyric coloratura soprano

Definitely one of the most pleasing voices I’ve ever heard, Minnie had a very soothing tone that you could listen and relax to all day. Her technique was impeccable, having been classically trained, and she is one of the pioneers of the mastering the whistle register.

12) Chaka Khan

Chaka-Khan

Type: Dramatic mezzo

What I love about Chaka Khan is that as a mezzo with a usually dark voice, she still has such a big voice that is able of hitting notes that some sopranos couldn’t even reach, even if some of them sound rather screechy. As the long-reigning Queen of Funk, she has inspired the likes of Whitney, Mary J Blige and Anastacia (who sounds a lot like her, just not as good).

13) Céline Dion

Celine-Dion

Type: Lyric soprano?

One of the best technical singers alongside Mariah, Céline has the utmost control over her almost operatic-like voice, that is rarely surpassed by anyone else. Her best performances are of course of her big ballads, where she shows off her instrument well, although I’m not a huge fan of her uptempo songs or when she covers other people’s songs. The reason I’ve ranked Céline so low is mainly because her nasal tone grates a bit too much.

14) Etta James

Etta-James

Type: Coloratura contralto?

What separated Etta James from other jazz and blues singers back in the day in the 1950s and 60s was her unique and influential style of singing, which consisted of mixing jazz, blues, soul and gospel genres with rock and roll and her trademark grunts, growls and raspy tone. She was a very emotive singer, more so than a technical one, and was great at improvising when singing live. Many of her predecessors include Christina, Bey, Adele and Janis Joplin.

15) Lauryn Hill

Lauryn-Hill

Type: Low lyric mezzo?

The fact that Lauryn Hill no longer makes music is a sad situation in today’s industry, especially after the success of her debut solo album and her work with the Fugees. She was a fabulous singer who mixed her gospel roots (which she showed off in Sister Act 2) and old-school soul and funk with modern-day R&B and hip-hop, something that has rarely been seen or heard on the scene. Even though it is sad she decided to indefinitely retire from music, you’ve gotta do nothing buy bow down to someone who released just one big album and has become a legend because of it.

16) Tina Turner

Tina-Turner

Type: Dramatic mezzo

What makes Tina Turner so incredible is her ability and power throughout her whole voice; manly low notes, strong hight belts and has a good head voice too. Tina defined herself as a great soulful rock singer and although her upper belts can sound really harsh and forced, you gotta love her gutsy deliveries and give nothing but the utmost respect to a woman who can still sing so well in her seventies.

17) Patti Labelle

Patti-Labelle

Type: Dramatic soprano

I’ve mentioned quite a few belters in this list, but while they can belt it out really well, none do it better than the Queen herself, Miss Patti Labelle. Some criticise her belting as overdone screaming, but if she’s still able to do it now in her late sixties, surely she’s doing something right? Her best performances have always been when she covers other artists’ songs, injecting her own unique style into them while still retaining the musicality and emotion of the song.

18) Mary J Blige

Mary-J-Blige

Type: Dramatic mezzo

One of the most emotive singers out there today, Mary is a great vocalist who has good techniques (bar some pitch problems and strained belts) and a wide range with a lot of power, and I love her deep, rich and husky timbre – she’s a like an even more urban version of Whitney.

19) Cher

Cher

Type: Lyric contralto

Many people probably think of Cher as more of a performer than anything else, which of course she is, and a very good one. But she is also a great vocalist who is highly underrated, making her stand out against her contemporaries such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, who are also more known for their dramatic and ever-changing looks than anything else. Cher has a deep, warm timbre to her voice but is also a fantastic belter, with a good technique, making me wonder why so many people still overlook her as a vocalist. She’s also very versatile as an artist, having covered many different genres, and very well too, may it be said.

20) Alicia Keys

Alicia-Keys

Type: Low lyric mezzo

As an overall artist, Alicia is amazing. Her songwriting and musical skills are brilliant and her voice has a husky and soulful tone to it. Although it must be said she isn’t always the most consistent live performer, I’m always more compelled to listen to the emotive way in which she tells a song rather than the way she sings it, which is sometimes pitchy and strained. Her lower register however, is always pleasant and sultry to listen to.