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American Idol Season 7 Top 9 Vocal Masterclass: Country Music With Dolly Parton


American IdolBy: Rosanne Simunovic

Well, this week’s showcase was a mixed bag of tricks, wasn’t it? I was trying to decide whether this theme should be labeled a musical misdemeanor, but then some singers very noticeably elevated Ms. Parton’s music in a gigantic way.
I am late posting this week, so, let’s get to it, shall we?

Here are my evaluations and, remember, I am reviewing each singer in (first name) alphabetical order. Your comments are always welcome.

To quickly access individual singers, simply click on the singer’s link below.

Brooke White, Carly Smithson, David Archuleta,
David Cook Jason Castro, Kristy Lee Cook,
Michael Johns, Ramiele Malubay, Syesha Mercado

BROOKE WHITE: JOLENE
Strengths: Brooke- you wonderfully established the perfect ambience for this song. I loved the acoustic sound of the instrumental accompaniment, and, through this, you revealed another element of your musical diversity by showcasing your adeptness on guitar.

I applaud you for highlighting every facet of your musical development – singer, pianist, and guitarist. You are a risk-taker and it shows that you have an internalized level of confidence that delightfully provides contrast to your likeable and humble stage demeanour.

As always, you established a lovely relaxed vibe in your performing technique, allowing the audience to truly relax and feel the music. You have a genuine and real charisma that is truly special; some people/performers try to look and act genuine – but with you, it is a natural component of your personality. That is very rare in this business.

The key selection for this song was “spot-on”, as it highlighted the warm, rich timbre of your lower and middle range. Once again, as in your previous performances, you made certain that the melodic line suited the natural ebb and flow of your singing ability.

As I mentioned during your Top 11 performance, you have a fairly sound technical approach to your singing, although this could be further developed in an effort to expose a wider degree of your vocal range.

Good work, Brooke.

Critique: Brooke – I know you – and all the singers – have limitations on song choice, but this song had a very narrow melodic and lyrical line that created many pitfalls for your vocal artistry. The repetitive nature of the song needed a more creative, emotionally involved approach and, unfortunately, this was not evident in this week’s performance. This would have been a great opportunity to challenge and showcase some level of technical strength in your upper range, especially during the cyclic “Jolene” segments,

Therefore, the song performance was very one – dimensional and lacked an inventive approach to the phrasing elements in the song structure. The breathing was very predictable, as was the melodic line and, as a result, the overall performance of the song fell flat on the ears on the listener.

Additionally, you maintained a very horizontal formation when shaping your vowels and, through this technical flaw, we lost so much of the true beauty of your contralto voice. There was little sustaining power in your vocal masque, signaling that the diaphragmatic process was barely engaged in the vocalization process.

I also heard a push from the throat every so often – probably in an effort to achieve a country-styled ambience to your melodic line. I have always preferred Martine McBride’s approach to singing country music – it is pure and resonant, brimming with a solid technical foundation that never quits. Aesthetically, this is the sound you should try to re-create when singing in this genre. I feel it is a more current sound and certainly more impressive.

I hope that rehearsals go well for you this week, Brooke. I would love to see you accompany yourself on the piano once again and, then midway through the song, complete the remainder of the song in a standing position – away from the piano, backed by an acoustic orchestra. With the right song and the right mood, this would be spectacular.

Good luck next week, Brooke.

CARLY SMITHSON : HERE YOU COME AGAIN

Strengths: Carly – now this was a solid vocal masterclass – so impressive and so darn hard to critique. What’s there not to love? Everything that I look for in a singer was beautifully evident – the supreme artistry, the creative approach to the stylistic aspects of this classic song, the pure, well defined vowels, the vocal purity and focus. All of these important vocal characteristics were well defined and you have continued to improve and grow each and every week.

How I loved the slower tempo you selected for this song – it was such a great idea and really added a whole different emotional element to this song. It was just beautiful and extremely poignant. I never really paid attention to the lyrics until you performed this song at this more relaxed pace and, quite frankly, I was moved to “goose bumps”.

I noticed that you were closely maintaining a more circular position in your mouth formation when you moved into your upper range. It’s not quite there yet, but awfully close, which signals that you have been working very hard on this aspect of your vocal technique. Good for you! Your upper sustained note on “I” was pure and true – so focused, so gorgeous and completely “diphthong-free”. You grabbed that pure “ah” vowel and glued your voice to it, the result being a lush, pitch centered and confident vocal sound.

The nuances you displayed throughout this number added such a multi-dimensional effect to the whole performance. It was a sophisticated, multi-layered performance that comes from a wealth of experience and hard work. You have a superb work ethic – of this I am most sure.

Additionally, I loved your relaxed stage demeanour during this number, pacing this song extremely well, once again emphasizing your meticulous approach in the rehearsal process.

Brava Carly. This is as good as it gets on this show. Congratulations!

Critique: Carly – I am leaving you critique-free, as I feel that you have been working hard to blend the chest and head voice in appropriate amounts as you move into your higher register. Last week, I heard some strain in your voice; however, this week, your voice sounded immaculate throughout your massive vocal range.

I hope that you continue to work on these areas of tension in your upper range. Just remember to relax the jaw and ease on to those upper notes. If you create too much sound too soon, the soprano register will sound piercing and aesthetically incorrect. Less is more when one cruises the upper parameters of the vocal range. It is always easier to increase the sound (through the diaphragmatic breathing process) than to decrease the vocal sound – although, in the end, a professional singer must be able to do both.

Excellent work, Carly! Truly a star making moment!

DAVID ARCHULETA: SMOKY MOUNTAIN MEMORIES

Strengths:David A. – like Carly, you left me truly speechless. Another “Vocal Masterclass” performance in one night? Okay, you people are making my job much too easy. Not only was this an inspiring song selection, this was an absolutely inspiring song performance. The vocal artistry and emotional power that you displayed in this 90 -second showcase was nothing short of breathtaking.

The thing is this David: you are a genuine, authentic young man who just happens to be born with a God-given vocal gift, one that has been honed and crafted through hard work and dedication on the part of the teacher and the student. Given your young age, it is almost hard to conceive that you are capable of creating such a vast array of nuances in your vocal production, but you do all this and more.

The phrasing elements in this song were impeccable, the breath control was “on the money” and that circular mouth position was perfectly set for sustaining those pure vowels. As a result, your vocal line sounded fluid and seamless and you maintained a forward momentum throughout this number that was musical and expressive.

Also, I firmly applaud you on your song selection. You chose a more sophisticated and complex song from Dolly Parton’s songbook and this challenged you as an artist. I love that you are not afraid to take risks, in an effort to reach a little higher than the previous performance. Your measuring stick is your last performance – not someone else’s – but yours. You think like an athlete and this is why you are headed for great success in the music business.

Congratulations David.! This was just an outstanding and extremely moving showcase. Bravo!

Critique:David – the only critique here is that you have left me with nothing to critique once again. Am I losing my touch or are you just plain good?

Just a word of caution – at times, I heard evidence of vocal fatigue –a husky quality that “came and went” intermittently during the performance. Pace yourself wisely, David, and watch that you do not over sing during the rehearsal process. Your voice is still young and is still developing as we speak, so give it (and yourself) the rest it (and you) deserves.

However, keep doing what you’re doing – it is all well and good. You have been guided, trained and mentored by the best

DAVID COOK: LITTLE SPARROW

Strengths: David C. – well, I was aching for an acoustic vocal and I finally got it! Ask and ye shall receive. I loved your personal arrangement of this number. It was absolutely brilliant and allowed you to deliver a very haunting and evocative interpretation of this great song.

Once again, you accompanied yourself on guitar with great dexterity and agility, once again demonstrating the superb musical gifts and experience you bring to this competition.
You performed this number with a sense of artistic purpose and commitment and I could see and feel the emotion coming through your voice and face. You displayed great passion and depth in your artistic approach to this song and, therefore, the communicative aspects of this number were extremely strong.

Although you were suffering some health issues during this number, you still challenged yourself as a vocalist, moving dauntingly into your head tone range. Good for you. This business is not for the faint of heart and, on a better –and healthier day – this song would have been a vocal touchdown.

However, your solid vocal technique, coupled with you confidence and musical experience, allowed you to create a memorable performance, even when your body was not experiencing optimal health or rest. The show must go on, right?

Great work, David! Kudos!

Critique: David C. –this is a hard one to critique because you were very ill during this performance. However, I have one suggestion. I thought the key of this song was really high for your natural singing voice. Even though you were feeling very ill, it just felt and sounded too high – beyond your comfortable singing range.

I think a semi-tone or tone lower would have allowed you to create a more comfortable vocal performance, alleviating the elements of strain and fatigue in your voice. Also, the high tessitura of this song caused you to raise your head, thus adding more fuel to the fire and creating more tension in your vocal sound.

Try to make certain, David, that you select a key that will highlight the most comfortable area of your singing range – at least for 75 -80% of the song. We need to hear the depth of your entire singing range, but, generally, singers should make certain that the majority of the song rests comfortably in their natural range.

Also, your throat was very constricted, quite possibly because your body was just too exhausted to support your voice through the energy needed from utilizing the diaphragmatic breathing muscles.

So, here’s to good health! Take time – somehow – to recoup that body of yours, knowing that you are a supreme artist who has demonstrated inspiring sophistication and originality in this show’s format.

Bravo Cookster! Keep on “cookin’” but don’t “overcook” your voice or you will burn out.

JASON CASTRO: TRAVELIN’ THROUGH

Strengths: Jason–I thought that this song was a perfect fit for you. Once again you accompanied yourself on guitar and, in all honesty, this is when I feel you are the most comfortable in a performance. I could sense your comfort level and, as a viewer and a listener, I was truly relaxed while watching your performance within this low-key ambience. Visually and audibly, the musical atmosphere you created felt genuine and real.

Additionally, the vocal elements within this performance sounded more confident and muscular –the best I have heard you sing in a long while. The key selection was on the mark and allowed you to add more color and nuance when you vocalized. There was a speech-like inflection in your singing style that was very welcome, allowing you to communicate the emotional elements of this song with comfort and ease.

You were emotionally involved with this song and, as a result, your performance was passionate and believable. Your elevated comfort level encouraged you to punctuate your melodic line with increased dynamic range – very expressive and very musical indeed.

Technically, your voice benefited immensely from your artistic delivery and this is so important. Singers must feel the music – first and foremost – thus energizing the technical elements in a relaxed and rigorous manner.

Good work, Jason!

Critique: Jason – although your artistry was back in full force, you need to continue to work on solidifying your technical skills when you sing. I loved the fact that you were opening your mouth to cement the pure vowels on the melodic line, but you were still maintaining that less appealing horizontal position.

Keep working on the correct formation of your mouth and allow your jaw to relax fully when navigating your upper range. In doing so, you will encourage the diaphragmatic breathing muscles to work at full force, making sure that your voice is resonating in your vocal masque (face).

And do not slouch when you play your guitar. Make sure you are sitting with the correct posture, elevating and expanding the rib cage muscles. This will allow you to fully utilize the strength and power of these muscles when you release the air to sing.

However, there was great improvement this week, Jason. Good for you. Perfect song! Exceptional delivery!

KRISTY LEE COOK: COAT OF MANY COLORS

Strengths: Kristy Lee – stylistically, this was wonderful performance and you exhibited a relaxed demeanour throughout this showcase.
As I said after your Top 11 performance, I absolutely love the timbre of your voice, particularly in your lower range. You genetically possess a brilliant vocal timbre, thus ensuring a naturally resonant vocal quality that rings pure and true.

Additionally, I was surprised and delighted to see you move to a more technically acceptable vocal sound towards the end of this song. At this point in the song your mouth moved toward a more circular formation; therefore it allowed you to minimally open and relax your throat and plant that voice in your vocal masque where it belongs. As a result your ending was strong and confident.

Once again, you chose your key wisely and this was very important in the overall success of your performance.

Good work, Kristy-Lee!

Critique: Kristy-Lee – overall, I felt that there was too much country twang in your vocal delivery, thus And encouraging you to sing with a poor technical approach. Your throat was very constricted and there was an audible push from the throat when you vocalized.

As long as your throat remains constricted, we will never hear the full potential beauty of your vocal gift. You must allow the diaphragmatic breathing muscles to support and focus your voice in your vocal masque, but, this will also meant that your mouth must maintain a circular formation on all the vowels.

Any tension in the upper body will result in less than aesthetically pleasing vocal sound and will likely cause future problems down the line. Your vocal cords need to be utilized with care and diligence. It’s a muscle –and muscles need to be trained and maintained through the correct technical process or injury will result.

As I mentioned to Brooke, I wish you would have used a purer technical approach, similar to Martina McBride’s vocal delivery. When she sings, her breath control and phrasing elements are extremely – well – breathtaking and allows her to challenge and expose her exceptional vocal and dynamic range.

However, you are here to see another week and all is good. Now grab that mirror and start vocalizing scales, singing only to pure vowels. Relax that jaw and fill the bottom of your lungs through the diaphragmatic breathing process. Let’s solidify that technique!

Good luck next week, Kristy!

MICHAEL JOHNS: IT’S ALL WRONG, BUT IT’S ALL RIGHT

Strengths: Michael-this was simply an amazing and heartfelt performance. This song choice was a stroke of genius, as it highlighted your immense capabilities as a soulful blues artist. Your voice sounded beautifully rich and robust and you expressively utilized your immense vocal range to passionately communicate the lyrics of this great song.

You had so many textures coming through your natural vocal timbre, allowing the expressive qualities to gain in consistency and artistry throughout this song. Our feelings for the music mirrored your expressive emotion and, in doing so, you established a strong identification process with your audience.

Additionally, this was an extremely well-paced vocal showcase, thoroughly and meticulously rehearsed. All the crucial performance elements were in place – the accurate key selection
for you natural singing range, the emotional commitment to the song lyrics, the impeccable phrasing, the multi-dimensional dynamic content.

And, what a surprise at the end! That falsetto on the word allwas a killer. It was beautifully pitch-centred and pure while you sustained the “ah” vowel. This falsetto delivery provided a super contrast to your naturally muscular singing range, exposing the true depth and potential of your vocal gift!

Excellent work, Michael! You are slowly building on the momentum you established after last week’s “Queen” song performance. This is wonderful to see and hear, as it emphasizes that, not only are you becoming increasingly comfortable on the Idol stage, but also you are working very hard behind the scenes.

Bravissimo! Kudos!

Critique: Michael – when oh when will you relax that jaw? Your lower facial muscles were still awfully tense and it gives me cause for worry. You need to protect your voice by securing the correct technical process while you sing.

However, your artistry was exceptional and countered many technical flaws that were evident to my eyes and ears. Yet, in the long run, you will only be able to get away with this for so long. If you continue on this route, you will encounter major vocal issues that may be irreparable.

Remember that head tone (falsetto) at the end of your song? This element is necessary in your vocal mix throughout your singing range, as it highlights the natural ring of your range throughout your registers. It will also create a seamless vocal sound from top to bottom. Mixing head and chest voice is integral to creating a homogeneous sound, so use your rehearsal time to vocalize on pure vowels, singing scales or arpeggios, making certain that you voice sounds balanced and consistent from top to bottom.

You are an intelligent guy – hopefully, you are working on the correct technical approach in your singing. I thoroughly understand that the correction of the technical deficiencies will not happen overnight, so hopefully, we will see some improvement over the coming weeks.

Yours is a voice of quality, with classical pop elements that will allow you to continue to challenge and expand your potential as a singing artist.

However, this was a stellar performance. I just loved it so much.

RAMIELE MALUBAY: DO I EVER CROSS YOUR MIND

Strengths:Ramiele – I loved your well – paced stage choreography this week. You exhibited an enthusiastic and youthful charisma that was so enjoyable to watch. You seemed to perform with a great sense of purpose and were very motivated to communicate and interact with the audience.

Therefore, your confidence level was more developed this week than in previous, so I applaud you for jumping out of your shy little box and giving yourself permission to have fun on the stage.

I am so happy that you chose an upbeat song this week. You made great effort to involve yourself with your audience and had a relaxed and open demeanour throughout this performance.

Vocally, your voice gained more presence toward the end of the song when you navigated your upper range. I sensed this is where you felt most comfortable, as your voice enjoyed a strong resonating presence when you entered this area of your vocal range.

Additionally, the more powerful dynamic level reinforced your vocal presence, allowing you to sing with a no holds barred approach, thus ensuring a free and natural vocal delivery, with strong support from the diaphragm.

Good work, Ramiele!

Critique:Ramiele – while it is difficult to balance the vocals and the choreography, you have to make sure that you rehearse all aspects of a performance in a manner that will enhance the overall presentation of your song.

This week, I felt that your stage technique overrode your vocal stability, especially when you vocalized into your lower range. I think that you were very intent about interacting with the audience and that was all very good. However, your vocal strength suffered in the interim, probably due to a combination of nerves and lack of time to really solidify the vocal and performance techniques.

I have said this numerous times to many singers, but it does bear repeating. Slow down the tempo of these upbeat songs during the rehearsal process. Work only on the vocals, making certain that your voice has been stabilized through the correct technical process. Then, slowly add the performance elements, making certain that you are balancing the stage movement in a way that does not negatively affect the vocal production.

Also, one last observation! I wish the camera angle at the beginning of this song had been more flattering. It emphasized your knees and legs and, visually, created a less than flattering impression on the television screen. And this happened many times during the course of this number. Visual impact for the television is sometimes stronger than the audio, so I felt that the camera work was all wrong for this performance.

However, I wish you well, Ramiele, (hey that rhymes) and look forward to seeing you perform at the Finale in May.

Best of luck in your future musical endeavours.

SYESHA MERCADO: I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU

Strengths:Syesha –I loved the dynamic elements in this performance so very much. As you began this signature song, I very much appreciated your soft, gentler approach to this number, as it allowed the listener to really hear the lyrics. This was an exquisite and intimate performance and you reinforced this atmosphere by sitting quietly on the edge of the stage throughout this showcase. Perfect!

When you added the powerful dynamic on the repeat of the refrain, I thought your vocal sound was wonderfully lush. I think that the softer head tone singing in the first installment of the refrain encouraged you to center your voice more effectively when you added more chest voice punch to the louder dynamic the second time around.

Therefore, your vocal technique was generally concrete and accurate and you solidified the sustaining power of your voice through the powerful reinforcement in the diaphragmatic breathing muscles.

Your breathing was well formulated, as you meticulously and musically shaped your phrase lines with great artistry and creativity. Yours was a well -rehearsed performance and you made me love this often performed song all over again.

This was a confident showcase, performed with poise and elegance and brimming with star quality. Excellent work! Brava!

Critique: Syesha– once again, I have to caution you about maintaining a truly circular formation in your mouth position. You have a naturally resonant voice that allows you to become a little lax at times with your technique.

Be very diligent in the technical approach to your singing – keep the technique central to the overall vocal performance and never take your natural vocal ability for granted.
Technique serves a purpose – to develop and enhance your vocal capabilities, while at the same time preserving the longevity and health of your vocal cords.

Also, I felt that the duration of the sustained note on the word love was perhaps too long. Now, if you had added a diminuendo (gradually becoming softer) while sustaining this note, this would have been very impressive and would have allowed you to sing the final note on the word you at a softer level, thus creating a tender, heartfelt ending to this song.

However, I am glad to see that you will be with us for another week, Syesha. You have tremendous ability as a vocalist and you have rightfully earned your place in the Top 8.
For all the latest American Idol News, visit SirLinksalot: American Idol or the American Idol Official Site

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About Masterclass Lady

Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

25 Responses to “American Idol Season 7 Top 9 Vocal Masterclass: Country Music With Dolly Parton”

  1. MCL, on your old website, you had a tutorial of vocal terms. You threw out a couple this week whos meaning I don’t recall. Can you direct me to that article? Thanks, and welcome back home!
    Anita

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  2. katherinesmom April 4, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    As I was reading about Jason, I kept thinking, “Dude, just stand up straight when you sing…” and then don’t you go and tell him not to slouch, great minds…er, well, YOUR great mind thinks like mine :) I would love to see him take a page from Michael’s performing approach.

    You know, as I think about it, I’d like to see all the singers “borrow” from each other. Brooke could use some of Carly’s edge; Carly can borrow a teaspoon of sugar from Brooke; Jason could bring some “front man” swagger ala Michael; Cookie could dial it down a tad to Jason’s personal coffeehouse demeanor; David A. could drink a swig of macho from Cook’s thermos;. Syesha and Kristy can singing personas for one song just for the heck of it ’cause I can’t come up with another suggestion! Well, you might have better ideas but you get the gist of what I’m thinking?

    If repeat listening means anything, I find myself listening again to both Davids, Carly, and Michael. But not Syesha, Brooke, or Kristy. Hmm…..

    Great article, as usual, MCL! Glad you got your luggage back.

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  3. Katherine – there you go. We both noticed Jason’s posture – it is a common problem when one is playing a guitar so hopefully he will rectify this issue in the coming weeks.

    I love the “borrowing” concept and you nailed it so perfectly. What a great idea. I loved it.

    Wadahoot: Here is the link to the original article:

    http://www.foxesonidol.com/cgi-bin/ae.pl?mode=1&article=article1200.art&page=1

    I should really add it to my new site. Something else to add to my “to do” list.

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  4. I just wanted to say that I love the reference to Martina McBride! What a wonderful artist she is and such a powerful instrument she possesses. She is definitely one to emulate in terms of technique. =)

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  5. Loved how you praised David A. That boy just has an absolutely incredible voice. He also hit a high D-flat, which is a note most male singers have truble reaching so this was truly amazing. : )

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  6. Thank you, MCL, for writing such thoughtful, helpful articles about the Idols. I love how the comments here are mostly positive towards all the singers.

    I read somewhere that the contestants are allowed access to the internet- some avidly reading everything (yikes!) and others avoiding the ‘net altogether. I hope they have found their way to this site and get the great vocal coaching!

    As a very amateur singer, I love the great tips- my favorite one is to sing uptempo songs slowly. Maybe David A. will pick the right song and practice it that way :)

    I’m becoming a big fan of Carly and both Davids. I love the full sound that each brings to their singing. It’ll be interesting to note the growth of all the performers. It’s too bad Ramiele couldn’t progress a bit more. She has a beautiful voice that just didn’t seem to mesh with a confident performance. I hope she gets good vocal coaching and keeps at it!

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  7. Love your advice for the top 9! I would love to see Jason develop more technically – I enjoy him so much. Don’t think he will win but with a little more vocal training he could have a stellar career. And I didn’t know what exactly it was about Michael Johns but your comment about his face not being relaxed is spot on – that’s exactly what it is. Still he is progressing week to week – this one is going to be tough to call as far as who might win! David A. did an amazing job, for such a youngster he has an amazing voice. And David Cook is wonderful. Started out the season not liking him at all – now I think he is my favorite! And Brooke, and Carly, and………..guess I like just about all of them. For once the season is living up to the hype – these kids really ARE good. And they sing well together as a group too, the voices blend beautifully – plus they have so much fun during the group songs. You can tell they know they are cheesy and are playing up that cheese factor for all it’s worth – so enjoyable! I really hope and wish that they are reading your comments and learning from them. It helps too that they have a vocal coach there to work with them. So I hope Debra Byrd reads your articles too! :)

    Did you know that Clay Aiken did a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again” on his last CD (the Clive Davis mandated all-covers CD!) – a slowed down version much like the one Carly sang. If you have a chance give it a listen.

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  8. Sorry the link for the video of Clay didn’t work but you can find him on YouTube.

    Also forgot to mention it’s wonderful how Idol is showing what is happening to some past contestants. I’m glad so many are enjoying success because of this show!
    Terry

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  9. First time leaving a comment, but this blog is the best! I’ve got a musical background, but not vocals. So this is more a question, if our host isn’t too busy…

    It’s been established that David A’s high note in SMM was a D-flat (through an interview with his vocal coach). I think that that was his full voice, head voice, not sure what to call it and NOT falsetto. When listening to the studio recording, where he holds the note a bit longer, it sounds too strong to be falsetto. Any thoughts?

    I just love reading your comments…I’m learning so much about voice from you! And you’re always so kind to everyone…Thanks!

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  10. Another absolutely stellar review – I really enjoy reading these! As I did last season, I have been sharing your reviews with my fellow David Cook fans at Idolforums.com, and they love reading your reviews as well.

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  11. Thanks everyone for your positive feedback.

    And, yes, Vagabond, I remember seeing Clay’s version of this song, “Here You Come Again” and it was excellent. Thanks for jogging my memory.

    Cannot wait for next week’s show. It should be spectacular.

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  12. REEEEally stupid question…but I am not a singer or musician of any kind…but could you tell me when David A hit that note…the D flat..was it when he was singing the word ‘mountain’ or ‘keeping’…I know…I am almost embarassed to be asking but just find it so interesting..and I am sure it is considered an accomplishment as a singer…correct?

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  13. Sheebla – I believe his high D flat came after the word “Father” – toward the end of the song -and he bends his knees to access the note. Great technique. Good boy.

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  14. Great blog entry!

    This season is really shaping up! Surprising recovery from Ramiele, huh?

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  15. Joanielee – thanks for stopping by. Yes, Ramiele was just starting to come out of her shell. She has such a beautiful voice, doesn’t she?

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  16. Analogheart – thanks for sharing my Vocal Masterclass articles with the readers over at Idolforums.Com. I love that site – one of my favorites.

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  17. Bdsherlock – thank you so much for your kind comments and welcome to MasterclassLady.Com

    I think that David was mixing some nice chest voice with his pure head voice when he hit that high Db. His voice sounded so seamless and even, so, definitely, it was his full voice.

    However, he always has that glimmer of head voice throughout his range, which is why his voice is so clear and transparent.

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  18. I think the highest note of David A.’s song was the word “keep” (right after Father). I can’t stop listening to this- it’s so heartfelt and beautiful.

    It’s very interesting but after listening to David C. again, I agree that it sat just a bit too high for David’s voice. Maybe combined with the physical tension he was feeling, he just couldn’t relax enough to let the sound flow freely? I would love for him to redo this a key lower, I think it would really fly.

    Ramiele did a great job singing after crying- so tough. I wish she had brought that raw emotional edge to all her performances. She would still be on next week!

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  19. Katherine – yes – the word “keep” – I couild hear the note but couldn’t think of the word and haven’t had time to review the video over at Youtube.Com So, thanks for recalling the word “keep” for me.

    I agree about Ramiele – however, I thought she was really trying to communicate and reach her audience this week, but the tears added even more emotion. She seems so shy – very sweet.

    Hard to say if the key would have been fine without David C’s health problems. It just sounded really high – but, if that diaphragm wasn’t working with a bouyant kind of energy, then it would indeed affect the natural flow of his voice.

    Why does everyone feel they have to sing high all the time? I just watched the “Karen Carpenter” story on TV and the velvet quality of her voice and the emotional connection she had with her songs were so beautiful. You really listened to the words when she sang her songs – just so gorgeous and memorable.

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  20. MCL, how wonderful that you mentioned my favorite female singer. Her voice has been described as beautiful as an Angel’s. I don’t believe we have had a contestant with that same quality of voice and emotional connection.

    I have also been watching America Idol Rewind and have always felt Ruben, Clay, and Kimberley have been the BEST TOP 3 ever. With this year, we may find three that are also the best. I must admit I don’t find fondmess for Carly and hope she will not be in that special TOP 3 show. (I feel so guilty. lol)

    Your advice to Jason is on point. I do believe he reads your column, and hope he will take your advice. In the past, I have sent your URL to relatives of the contestants. Your analysis is the BEST and I have learned so much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

    Kari

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  21. Kariann – do you mean Karen Carpenter? I love this young lady so much and it breaks my heart to think that she died at the age of 32 years. She truly is an angel – inside and out and her voice reflected this.

    I am trying to motivate my own students to listen to her music and her voice. so much feeling and warmth – it is truly special, isn’t it?

    Thank you for sending my Vocal Masterclass articles to relatives of the contestants. I really appreciate this and hope they are of some assistance to them.

    It is hard to suddenly change your technical approach to your singing and performing style but, if some feel they can handle the change, all the better.

    Yes, that Season 2 Top 3 was special, but I feel this season will be as well, given the correct combination of singers. :)

    Once again, thank you for your kind comments and for taking the time to spread the Masterclass word.

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  22. Hi guys!

    I just read a scathing article on Carly and asked where it was printed, as it didn’t have a link. a remark was added that said, “Much of this info was published in a Wall St. Journal article on the difficulties in the recording industry” So, I can’t verify it, but be sure to read it and judge for yourself! http://americanidolrumors.com/american_idol_season_7/american_idol_news/carly_liar.html
    And here’s a video of her showing off the MCA studios (Randy’s stomping grounds) http://youtube.com/watch?v=gb3mhGHoS90 Her hair is SO odd to me in brown and in frizz! LOL! I did find the ‘body’ coach interested where he is teaching her how to move and sing at the same time.
    Now, I don’t disagree that she should or shouldn’t be on AI … not for me to say … but it does seem wrong that someone (Carly) has had professional “How to move on stage” lessons and other AI ‘kids’ sing just for fun at church or school! I don’t know …

    Anita

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  23. MCL, yes I did mean Karen Carpenter. Some of the younger people have had her songs played at weddings, so some know of her. *wink* There are some beautiful voices out there, but I still feel she is the best!

    Oh, I sent the link to your blog VOCAL MASTERCLASS. What you say makes sense, is professional, and could help the contestants, especially those with less experience. Sweet Jason…

    One last thought here…I feel the TOP 4 could easily be the four guys. IMO, the guys are more talented this season than the girls. Although, I cannot see TPTB allowing that to happen.

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  24. Wadahoot – I did see the article before. Oh well -she is getting a second kick at the can, so we shall see what happens.

    I don’t mind that she is bringing previous musical experience – in fact, I welcome it. However, it is neat to see singers evolve on the show, singers like Clay Aiken and Ruben. That’s what makes this show interesting.

    However, American Idol wants to continue to maintain credibility within the music industry, so I can see why they have gone this route with people like Carly and the Davids.

    Boy, can she sing though. Her voice is simply amazing.

    Thanks for sending the links. I appreciate this very much.

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  25. She is truly the best, Kariann. They should have a “Carpenters” theme on the show. All those wonderful songs! But, no one can or could sing them like Karen Carpenter.

    I hope that the VM articles are helping Jason. He really improved this week, I thought. Had a nice meaty sound to his vocal tone.

    An all male Top 4? Quite possibly – but not too sure here. Hard to say. It would be a first though, wouldn’t it? Overall, the guys are definitely stronger than the gals this year.

    Also, it depends on the theme for Top? When is Andrew Lloyd Webber making his Idol debut? He will want to work with the best singers, so Carly should be there – for sure.

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