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My Irresistible Playlist

Last week, Barbara McAfee was one of the guests on the Expert Access Radio Hour, my company’s AM radio show. I’m what you could consider a “co-producer” of the show in that I edit the recording of the hour each week to strip out the commercials and news breaks to allow us to re-purpose the recordings on a website and through podcasts. That’s a fancy way of saying that I listen to each and every show that runs – something around 60 shows or so at this point.

This past Sunday, one of the guests was Barbara McAfee, and like quite a few of the guests EA Radio features, I hadn’t heard of her prior to my edits. Once exposed, however, I’m hooked. Barbara is the author of the book Full Voice: The Art and Practice of Vocal Presence. She suffered stage fright and had vocal issues when she began performing but has since overcome these obstacles and become a vocal coach who encourages people to “‘find their voice,’ whatever that means to them,” according to her website.

While I recommend listening to her entire interview (which begins at about -20:16), I was intrigued most by her idea of an “Irresistible Playlist.” It has to do with the five distinct vocal colors.

Earth – A darker, richer sound. It’s a great sound for projecting authority. If you say NO! it’s different than saying No? It sounds like a yawn.

Fire – The fire voice is the voice of passion and conviction and generally you wave your hands around a lot. It’s a great voice for public speaking. It’s not so great if you’re trying to console someone who had a lousy day or had to lay someone off.

Water – The voice of the heart. It comes from the heat and throat and is a full, empathetic voice. If you do have bad news to deliver, or someone says “I’ve had a terrible day.” and you respond with, “Oh … I’m really sorry.”

Metal – A bit nasally. It is bright, piercing and irritable. Think of Fran Dreischer on The Nanny as an example.

Air – This voice is very breathy. It’s about inspiration, imagination and possibility.

Find songs from very different people and voices to play in your car. It’s “like yoga” to drive around and sing your heart out

This is actually a much more difficult exercise than I expected it to be. It’s difficult to determine whether some songs are would fit best for one voice or another, and many of them, like Goldie Hawn’s rendition of “A Hard Day’s Night,” straddle two voices as that song does with an Air Voice and Fire Voice.

So here it is, my irresistible playlist I’ll be using to practice my vocal colors as I attempt to break out of what I believe is my natural Earth Voice and incorporate some others into my daily mix:

1. Goldie Hawn – “A Hard Day’s Night” – Air/Earth

2. Adele – “Someone Like You” – Earth/Fire

3. Josh Groban – “You’re Still You” – Fire/Water

4. Alanis Morisette – “You Oughta Know” – Metal/Fire

5. Robyn – “Call Your Girlfriend” – Water/Earth/Air
(This is actually a fascinating case study of being forceful and speaking with an Earthy authority to a man, then switching to a Water voice and expressing empathy and compassion for the soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, and then a Air voice when trying to tell the man what he could possibly say that might make things easier. It’s also my current favorite song that hasn’t been exposed to the masses but should be.)

Post By Liz Harter (70 Posts)

Liz Harter has a degree in English Writing with a minor in Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. She is an award winning journalist on the collegiate level with a strong background in journalism. She currently works in PR and is a social media autodidact Google+

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About the Author

Liz Harter has a degree in English Writing with a minor in Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. She is an award winning journalist on the collegiate level with a strong background in journalism. She currently works in PR and is a social media autodidact Google+

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