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A Masterclass Review Of Katie Stevens- Wild Horses Studio Version American Idol 9 Top 12


Well, sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but, after hearing this ITunes performance of “Wild Horses” from Top 11 American Idol 9 Finalist Katie Stevens, methinks this talented young lady is going to be around for a while.

Her voice is wonderfully refined and, yet, she has a natural inclination to artistically bend and mold her phrases.

My only critique is that she needs to develop further creativity in her vocal delivery, particularly her phrasing method. At one point during this song, the repeated “Wild Horses” refrain began to sound a little too predictable and linear. However, in her defense, the background arrangement was very tedious and left nothing to the imagination.

So, hopefully, the vocal coaches will work with Katie in the development of her interpretive ability. She’s almost there – she just need some tweaking and then her performances should really soar.

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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

7 Responses to “A Masterclass Review Of Katie Stevens- Wild Horses Studio Version American Idol 9 Top 12”

  1. The studio version does sound lovely. I understand, MCL, why you enjoy Katie’s performances, as she knows the proper technique. I, too, enjoyed her performance this week. Would you say, though, that her age inhibits her from conveying emotion when she sings (talking about previous weeks, not this past week), similar to when Diana Degarmo was on the show?

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  2. Beth – I actually did my final project in one of my anthropology classes (“Culture and Emotion”) on emotion in singing, so the bigger question behind the one you’re asking—how do singers convey emotion most effectively in singing?—is still fresh on my mind. I feel that age isn’t a requirement for being able to convey emotion effectively—even as children, we have and show emotions, and other people know what they are—but with age comes experience and understanding, and those certainly help a singer be a more effective communicator. Besides facial expression, body posture, and other visual displays of emotion (which are actually quite important), most of the emotion is evoked through the voice itself—through the vocal delivery, particularly through phrasing, inflection, volume, tonal quality, and other technical elements—and learning to convey emotion effectively requires a singer to really know his/her voice and to be familiar with which qualities or coordinations produce the desired emotional effect. This intimate understanding of one’s voice and how it sounds to other people is really cultivated over time, and one can argue, then, that this is one of the ways in which older singers are at an advantage. (Stage presence, which is also developed over time, is another.)

    I feel that Katie is an example of someone who is a “good singer” in “real life” but is unfairly judged as less talented than she actually is because of the much higher expectations viewers have for contestants on a show like this. Unfortunately, Katie just leaves many people cold because her one main weakness is also one of the main strengths of her competitors. Yes, Katie has a gorgeous tone, and her vocal production is more technically secure than many of the other contestants. However, the lack of inventiveness in her vocal delivery and her phrasing (which MCL acknowledges above as well) makes her artistic identity rather nebulous, and this puts her at a distinct disadvantage in a season full of distinct artists. The contrast between her lack of a clear artistic identity and the “uniqueness” of her competitors makes her pale in the (slightly unfair) comparison. Plus, as Kara mentioned, Katie’s vocals are never exactly perfect because of nerves or whatever reason; she tends to have minor pitch problems in all her live performances. And I think for a contestant like Katie, her main problem is that she’s perceived as (1) too generic and (2) not as polished as past contestants and/or similar artists. If she was 100% pitch-perfect and all her notes were beautiful and soaring, I am sure that people’s response to her would be much better, even if her ability to connect with her lyrics was still seen as questionable. (A lot of people felt the same way about early Mariah Carey, whom for the record I love (note: early Mariah Carey!), but critics have made comments such as this: “Carey is pretty much an empty vessel herself, but her voice is perfect enough that, at times, you might forgive the fact that she’s all about show and not connecting with her material.”) On the other hand, people would probably be more willing to forgive Katie of her minor vocal shortcomings if she could distinguish herself from the sea of voices that sound so similar to hers (i.e. every aspiring pop diva who wants to be the next Christina Aguilera/Mariah Carey/[fill in the blank]).

    I think Katie is a good singer (if you just step back and see what distinguishes good singers from bad ones), and she has a ton of potential. But she needs more time to get to really know her own voice, carve out her own sound, and understand what makes her uniquely “Katie Stevens” and not any of her influences or all the other voices similar to hers. Time and experience will give her voice more “character.” That said, even as I understand the criticism of her, I feel that much of it is unnecessarily harsh. It is very difficult as a seventeen-year old to be that in tune with one’s voice and one’s artistic identity—more than non-singers probably realize since many singers older than Katie share the same struggle—and even though I’m not quite a fan yet, I hope that Katie grows over the course of competition and starts gaining a sense of her own personal vocal identity. I really look forward to seeing many of the contestants grow over the competition, actually; seeing singers blossom before our eyes is always very exciting and rewarding! ;)

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  3. MCL, are you going to review the other studio performances?

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  4. Vance – I was hoping too – but ran out of time this week. I apologize for this.

    The reason I reviewed Katie is that she has been the target of so much criticism and I wanted the readers to see and hear that her position in the Top 12 is justified.

    Hopefully, I can select a different Idol each week – that should be manageable from my end. :)

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  5. J, I love your comments regarding the conveying of emotion while singing. It’s so important. Several years ago I went to a performance by a soprano who was pretty well known here in Charleston. She had a wonderful voice. But she looked like she was being tortured while she was singing. I had to close my eyes in order to stay in the room with her. Katie is nothing like that, of course, but I use that experience as an example of performing being so much more than just producing pleasant sound. I think Katie has a lovely voice & she does in fact appear to be enjoying herself while singing. But she doesn’t ADD anything to the song that makes it distinctly hers. I’m not asking that she “know herself as an artist” (that whole particular line of criticism from the judges really gets old after a while – being a relative newcomer to Idol, I didn’t know that the expectation for these singers was that they come on the show with fully formed artistic personae in the spirit of Athena springing from Zeus’s forehead). To me, Katie’s singing is just nothing special at this point in time. In my opinion, Katie is someone who would have benefited so much from having waited a few years to do this (Aaron would have benefited too). But it’s always possible that Katie could do something in the upcoming weeks that would knock me off my chair. She certainly has “the pipes”.

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  6. What creates emotion in an audience is as simple and as complicated as emotion itself. When emotion shines through an artist’s voice, it conveys the message of the music.

    A couple of examples. (I’m supposed to be watching a movie for my History of American Cinema class right now, but it’s boring; I’m taking a break.)

    John Mayer: While his voice is not Adam Lambert, or David Archuleta or Josh Groban, it is so pure and has such poignancy. His voice is heart rending. In his latest single “Heartbreak Warfare” is voice breaks in one of the lines of “Why don’t you say so?” It sounds like he’s about to break into tears and usually makes me do so. Or his voice on almost all of “In Repair” or “Gravity.”

    Bruce Springsteen: He may have gravely voice, but he’s not pitchy. Now I’ve never seen him live and I’m sure he occasionally cracks, but his voice conveys the tone of his music. Anger in “Born in the USA” … sentimental and celebratory in “Thunder Road,” etc.

    Sarah McLachan: If I watch the Humane Society ad on Animal Planet one more time I think I will become a vegetarian and have a nervous breakdown. Even though her voice seems more classical to me she allows her voice to inflect within the phrasing.

    Some others: Bonnie Raitt, Jewel, Melissa Etheridge

    OK – gotta do my homework.

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  7. gday sinulla cewL blogi . Kiitos! Kerron joku sinulle sivu . !

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