American Idol Season 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 10 Female Performances

By: Rosanne Simunovic

Last week was a stellar opening showcase for many of the Top 12 female singers. Some of these singers gave outstanding premiere performances and indeed solidified the depth of talent in this year’s crop of female talent.

So, I waited for this night with great anticipation, wondering if our ladies could exceed their Top 12 performances or, at the very least, replicate the high standard they set during last week’s showcase.

Here are my evaluations and, remember, I am reviewing each singer in performance order. Your comments are always welcome.


Gina- as I said last week, you have an absolutely gorgeous lower register and that area of your voice sounded absolutely radiant at the beginning of this number. It had focus and a pitch centered purity that was perfectly supported from your diaphragm.

Your upper register needed some of this technical focus and support when you entered the more powerful phase of this song. I found that your vocal timbre sounded extremely over extended and strident, probably due to the constriction in your throat.

I did, however, appreciate your efforts in trying to maintain a circular mouth formation on your sustained vowels. Your main problem is that you carry too much chest voice into your upper register, not allowing the head voice to add shine and brilliance to your higher range.

Additionally, I truly feel that this was an uninspired song choice, as it drew attention toward the weaker elements in your voice: ie: your upper range. A song that highlighted the natural beauty of your contralto voice would have been perfect at this stage in the competition. Always remember that excellence is not always about powerful upper vocals. It is, however, about choosing songs that truly reflect the depth and dimension of your unique vocal talent. Choose wisely in the future and be meticulous when you research your repertoire.

Share your comments about Gina’s performance


Alaina- I thought that you created great emotional impact right off the top of this number. You created a strong impression and came out fighting. Your voice sounded beautifully focused and resonant throughout the entire number. Additionally, your camera work was very skillful and highlighted your communicative abilities.

However, that being said, the song choice left a lot to be desired. The melodic line did very little to highlight the extent of your vocal abilities and, even more, your interpretive abilities lacked the ingenuity to turn this song into a showcase for your vocal talent.

The repetitive nature of this song needed to be addressed in a more artistic manner. It would have been great if you had been more inventive with the melodic line, allowing you to reach for a new twist or turn on this well known song.

Also, during the cyclic passages of this number, you did encounter some minor pitch problems. You must be ever so cautious when you sing repetitive notes, as there is a tendency for the technical support system to unravel and lose consistency. It helps to think of placing each note a little higher, so that the pitch of each successive note doesn’t flatten.

However, your performance was miles ahead of last week’s performance and your energetic and buoyant approach to this song actually assisted you in resonating your vocal sound in a more seamless manner. Great improvement, Alaina.

Share your comments about Alaina’s performance


Lakisha – you can take any train you want and I will make sure I hop on board. Your voice is like a magnet; it lures the listeners in and never fails to captivate.

You selected a great song to highlight your marvelously soulful voice. Also, I thought you paced this song extremely well, allowing the bluesy feel of this song to be exposed and highlighted with ease and comfort. Your dynamic vocal range is extremely broad and you utilized nuances very effectively when you performed this number.

It was such a change from last week’s performance and the slower paced tempo allowed you to expose another component of your performing personality. Therefore, you were very wise with the song selection process this week. Brava.

You began the number a bit on the tentative side – a product of your initial nervous energy. However, it was a testament to your level of technical expertise that you managed to remain completely focused in order to ensure the successful overall performance of this song. You allowed the technical formula to assist the vocalization process and, as a result, your vocal sound blossomed and became more resonant as the song progressed.

Great work, Lakisha!

Share your comments about Lakisha’s performance


Melinda – I am speechless. You took this very familiar, very popular classic and twisted and molded the melodic line into a vocal work of art. It was quite the masterclass in singing and, perhaps, you should be my masterclass model when highlighting the steps to correct singing and performance in these articles. (smile) .

Everything worked, Melinda – the song selection, the inventive and creative interpretation, the technical and performing skills – all of these elements were primed and concrete. This song was meticulously rehearsed and well paced throughout the showcase.

Also, this performance emphasized your innate ability to perform a wide variety of genres, as this style of singing was very different from last week’s more soulful genre of music. Therefore, this was a very intelligent, very timely song selection. Additionally, this song was also a clever choice, because you performed it on the final day of February, which is known as “heart month”.

You compressed so many vocal elements into this 90- second showcase – the beautifully sustained singing, the impeccable phrasing, the melismas interspersed with your legato line, the depth of your vocal and dynamic range. It was all there and the result was a thoroughly captivating and inspiring performance.

Finally, I loved your descent into your lower range. You “dip down” instead of up; this fact I noticed last week and I loved it. It was different than the more common ascent into the upper range and, additionally, we heard the absolute depth and beauty of that lower voice.

Loved this performance and loved you. You are a genuine and veritable artist and, even more important, a really kind and generous person. It doesn’t get better than this.

Here is a clip of Melinda’s first audition.

Share your comments about Melinda’s performance


Antonella – as always, you exuded a beautiful presence on stage. I felt that this performance was miles above last week’s performance. Your voice sounded more resonant and you radiated a level of confidence that I felt was absent during last week’s performance.

This is not my favorite song in the world; it is very repetitive in the melodic line and the cyclic nature of the melody can cause problems for the singer. I felt this was the case in the early stages of this song, Antonella. Your voice, at times, suffered some tuning issues, as you failed to support the repetitive lower notes, not allowing a forward progression to phrase your melodic line. You have to be very aware of this inherent pitfall in this song, making certain that you are truly accessing your diaphragmatic breathing skills to support and place all of the lower voiced notation.

However, that being said, I thought the latter part of the song was effectively vocalized. You exposed your beautiful, pitch centered head tone; it was absolutely lovely and wonderfully centered. Now, what you need to remember is to incorporate some of this head tone into your lower range and not allow the chest voice to fully invade this area of your vocal range. You do indeed need chest voice for the depth of vocal sound, but head tone adds brilliance and luster to the lower part of the range and ensures a pitch -centered purity in your vocal sound.

Share your comments about Antonella’s performance


Jordin – once again you showcased the maturity and sophistication of your vocal and performing style. You have an amazingly developed voice for one so young in age and experience. Your technical gifts have allowed you to expand the intensity of your dynamic range. I loved how you alternated the hushed head tone intensity of your vocal sound in the opening bars of this song with the powerful vocals that evolved later on in the number.

However, I found the arrangement to be very strict and frantic in tempo and the rushed arrangement of this song did not allow you to breathe with expressive freedom. There was virtually no space in the structure of this song for you to deeply intake air with ease and effortlessness. I think this is why you carried so much chest voice into your upper register. You didn’t have enough air to freely resonate your upper register sound in your vocal masque (facial features) and, as a result, your upper voice sounded tense and edgy.

In the future, please make certain that these arrangements are allowing you to sing with ease and comfort on stage. I was amazed that you were able to add so much color and ornamentation in this song, given the fact that you were working within the confines of a very busy and hectic background arrangement. If anything, this negative element turned into a positive one in my eyes, as it demonstrated that you have the vocal talent and ability to stay focused and allow the song to evolve in the best way possible. Good for you, young lady!

Share your comments about Jordin’s performance


Stephanie – I loved your song choice and it was indeed a difficult one. However, your innate artistry and highly refined vocal ability were indeed ready for the challenge. I sense that you are a secure and confident artist, who understands her musical identity. This is so important and, given that fact that you are only 19 years of age, very admirable indeed.

Your sustained vocals throughout this very busy melodic line were impeccable and seamless. It is a given that your technical expertise is highly refined, as your voice always sounds beautifully resonant and focused in your vocal masque. The head tone element is a viable presence throughout your vocal range, allowing your vocal timbre to radiate like a jewel. Just outstanding, plus I like the vibrato, as it added a nuanced dimension to your dynamic range. Additionally, unlike many other singers, you know how to use this element judiciously, allowing it to permeate your vocal timbre for expressive dimension within your song.

That last sustained note was killer, Stephanie. The pitch-centered ring and clarity were astounding and gave evidence to the fact that you meticulously rehearsed both the choreographic and vocal elements in this performance. Nothing was left to chance and, as a result, the pacing was excellent throughout. Even though the song was extremely difficult and complex, I always sensed that you were in complete, absolute control. Brava!

Share your comments about Stephanie’s performance


Leslie –this week, we saw you in your vocal element, showcasing a song that truly spoke to who you are as an artist. I was very impressed with the smooth, pitch perfect a cappella beginning of this particular arrangement. It signaled your intelligent, creative artistry and, of course, provided a wonderful contrast to the upbeat portion that followed later on in this song selection.

However, I think that, in an effort to create a fully jazz-induced vocal experience, the scat singing became a bit problematic for you. Although I suspect on another day the jazz idiomatic structure would have sounded superb, this week, it sounded very manufactured and anxious. I suspect your nerves blocked the natural flow of this element and, perhaps, you would have been wise to adopt the phrase “less is more” when adding this feature to your melodic line.

Additionally, your pitch suffered during this segment of the song, as your technical support system collapsed. Remember to keep the classical support regime front and center when singing these quick passages; all of the notes need an equal amount of support, or you will lose vocal control and/or pitch will start to falter. This is what was problematic for you this week.

However, what did work for you was your wisdom in showcasing the beauty and depth of your mid and lower range. You understand the strength of your vocal abilities, Leslie, and use these strengths wisely in the song selection process. As I said last week, you have a light lyricism to your voice that distinguishes it from the rest of the pack and you never attempt to sing beyond your vocal boundaries.

You bring a different dimension to this competition and I hope to hear more from you in the coming weeks.

Share your comments about Leslie’s performance


Haley – so the Broadway baby decided to try a little R&B and it worked. You are yet another singer trying to showcase different genres of music each week. This was a very formidable performance, Haley, and your voice was brilliantly focused and even throughout your showcase.

Additionally, you moved with artistic ease and purpose on the Idol stage. I thought that the choreographic and vocal elements were beautifully synchronized and carefully rehearsed. The communicative elements during this song selection were outstanding and you worked the television camera with great expertise.

As I said last week, your vocal sound had a seamless quality and you sustained your vocal sound on the pure vowels in an impeccable manner. All of this created a confident and secure vocal sound and stage demeanor.

I can’t say that I was in love with the song selection, but I thoroughly appreciate and applaud the successful way you showcased this au courant number. However, in the future, try to select songs that really highlight the strength and power of your vocal range and avoid songs, such as this, that are have a repetitive melodic line. You have the vocal capability to perform songs that contain some complexity and layers in the melodic structure, so research your song material carefully in the future.

Share your comments about Haley’s performance


Sabrina – you ended this week’s performance showcase with stellar artistic composure and vocal brilliance. What a voice! What a performer! Once again, you highlighted the technical dexterity of your formidable vocal range. Your voice sounded supremely even and focused throughout this song and you are, indeed, an intelligent and creative vocal artist.

Then came the ending! Oh my! That was off the radar, Sabrina. The vocal run followed by that beautifully sustained note in your melodic line was absolutely breathtaking. This is why one studies the art of vocal technique – so that you can utilize your technique in ways that were totally unimaginable before the training process.

You have great presence when you sing and you are a genuine and believable artist of great passion. Please continue selecting songs that highlight the diversity of your artistry. This is the secret to success on this or any show. I suspect you already understand this, Sabrina, as you have made wise decisions that have successfully escorted you to this point in the competition.

This was an impressive end to an impressive showcase. Brava Sabrina and I have no doubt that I will see you next week.

Share your comments about Sabrina’s performance

For all the latest American Idol News, visit SirLinksalot: American Idol or the American Idol Official Site

Your comments are always welcome.

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 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 10 Female Performances”

  1. From the very first audition shown on TV, this girl was aweful! She’d be okay in a high school chorus, but that is it! I was absolutely shocked that she wasn’t booted last week..Lord have mercy, she was bad! She just doesn’t even come come close to having a voice that you would want to hear more than once, if even that. Come on, America. Who cares how great her body is…86 her!!


  2. Hi Suzette:

    Who are relating to in your comments? Just curious


  3. I feel like exact opposite of you (although I’m sure you’re correct). I feel like Gina has a hard time in her lower register and seems to go off pitch a lot. Once she starts moving up the scale her voice tends to get stronger. But when she does move into the “power note” area she struggles again and begins shouting instead of belting. But then she’ll move her mouth a little and the tone will come back.


  4. I love Jordin. For someone so young this young lady has a lot of talent. I feel as she goes through this she can get nothing but, better and at her age that good. I hope she can continue to on the road she’s on now and go far in this season.


  5. Jordin was very disappointing . . . because she is an utterly amazing singer, and she only did extremely well. I do disagree, however, with the characterization of Jordin’s voice as surprisingly mature. Jordin’s biggest problem is the immaturity of her voice (second is a lack of certain performance skills). It would be mature for most people, but in Jordin, it still has a lot of room to grow.

    Lakisha was very good as well, despite a song that I am sick of hearing on American Idol. I don’t like her style, but her ability is truly great. Her errors were so minor as to be utterly unimportant, and, as far as I can tell, she was technically flawless. Her potential is probably second only to Jordin in this competition, though I will probably never appreciate Lakisha’s style. Like Jordin, she could use work on choreography.

    I have a much different opinion of Melinda Doolittle’s performance. Her singing was very well done, but I found her version to be vastly inferior to some others I have seen (heard), not technically, but in arrangement. I thought the phrasing was a mess, though she obviously carefully planned it exactly as it was done, and she needs to learn that, sometimes, simpler is better. In a professional singer, arrangement is very important, and I have to hold it against her since she chose it. She has taken some nice strides from a timid backup singer, and she is obviously a very good singer, but I think she needs to take some time out to learn that more complexity does not automatically mean better.

    I like Alaina, but she needs a lot of work, and isn’t on par with a lot of the other singers right now. She has a great personality, and I wish she was better than she is. Her voice is sweet, but not strong. Her grasp on the technicalities of singing is not so great, and she frequently loses track of the pitch she’s supposed to sing. The beginning a capella segment was indeed pretty good, but she wasn’t on track at any point for the remainder of the song. It is fairly apparent she is a passionate person, and I truly hope she continues to work on her singing despite her recent rejection.

    Antonella Barba, similar to Alaina, does need a lot of work, though I think a naturally very good voice means she is on par with some of the other singers at this moment. She is obviously untrained, a fact she pointed out at her audition. If she gets some good help learning the technical aspects of singing, she could be very good in the long run.

    Haley Scarnato is another singer I’m disappointed with, because she was better than we experienced with this performance. She has a pretty voice, a very solid grasp of the fundamentals, some real power, and the stage aspects were good, but the song did not show her off, especially the subtleties and sweetness her voice is obviously capable of. Interestingly, it didn’t show off her power either. I’m definitely rooting for her to do well.

    As for Sabrina, she needs to ease off, one look at her neck shows how much she’s straining for power. She is quite a competent vocalist, but she needs to learn not to strain, and get her power from elsewhere than her neck muscles.


  6. P.S>
    I did make a few errors in that post, but I see no edit button, and I think my general ideas are clear.


  7. Melinda is the one to beat. No doubt.


  8. I like Sabrina because I feel that she possesses all the characteristics of an Idol — great voice, exotic looks, and maturity. While I agree that she may not have the best voice in the competition, I think it’s the combination of her talents that will take her far in Season 6 and beyond.


  9. I love her voice and enjoyed the song but agree it didn’t showcase her lower register enough.


  10. Okay, my first comment was about Gina.
    Alaina — why did she pick that song? Way too personal to the Dixie Chicks and she can’t carry the same emotion and strength. Sorry, bad choice.
    Lakisha- A Star!
    Melinda – Awesome
    Antonella – love the song but way too big for her. I hate to say it but afraid she only stayed on because of her unfortunate risque pics.
    Jordin – unbelievable! 17! no way! to tackle a Christina Ag. song too-wow!
    Stephanie – very good, strong
    Leslie – She is a unique performer and I enjoy her singing and personality but America isn’t ready for her on a mainstream level. I loved how she ended her song at the results show with — “why did I scat? Americans don’t like Jazz”
    Haley — good try, strong emotion
    Sabrina – strong


  11. seeing leslie go is the part you love to hate about “idol”…i can’t wait to see her have a solid career while some of the second raters(you know who they are) that america put in front of her slink off to middle age and karioke bars…have to believe that she’ll be seen by some real pros, who’ll appreciate the fullness of her low notes that sets up a rich effortless high end…doesn’t america notice that most of these girls have to whisper on the low notes and then start screeching as they ascend…well anyway i wish her the best…


  12. for you singing experts, can you tell me why Randy says “for me it was pitchy” isn’t it either pitchy or not? How is it a subjective “for me”?


  13. rjlight – I think Randy is just using a common expression, because, you are right, either the singer is singing out of tune or is not.

    I thought that he was using the word “pitchy” more than necessary this week. Some singers were referred to as “pitchy” when in fact they were not and vice versa.

    Maybe, the sound is different live than on TV, but I don’t think so.


  14. Mr bill:

    I was very disappointed to see Leslie leave. I just think her nerves truly affected her performances and I know that she still has so much success waiting for her. She needs to find the right “door”.


  15. I’ve read your assessments of the contestants for a few years now, and I LOVE them. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure out where the column had moved to last year until after Season 5 was over. I used to read it on Foxes on Idol, and I didn’t realize it had moved. I was quite happy to discover it again.

    I like seeing real technique discussed in the realm of popular music. I have no idea what really happens in the music industry, but I worry about a lot of artists ruining their voices by being “money makers” for their labels before their vocal technique is really ready for it.

    Reading your columns also makes me long for the days when I took lessons myself. I know that I do not have the natural talent that many of the AI contestants have, but I enjoyed working with what I had to produce something better. I added an octave to my range, although only 5 of those extra notes were “performance ready.” I also learned how to deal with the notes in my break, got rid of a lot of breathiness to my voice and learned quite a bit about head tone. Unfortunately, I was unable to continue with lessons after high school and I have no idea how to go about getting back into it now. I don’t know of anyone in my area who teaches, and I don’t know how I’d have time for it at this point anyway. I am a high school special education teacher and that leaves me very little time for things like lessons – especially since I am often staying at the school until 5 or 6 pm. It’s frustrating though, because I’ve lost all of my technique, and singing is extremely uncomfortable for me these days. I worry that I will permanently damage my voice without the technique.

    I’m sorry for rambling about all of that. I said all of that to say that I love reading your columns because they remind me of the fun I had taking lessons and performing.


  16. Antonella Barba- I don’t think that she should have made it this far. She dosen’t have what it takes. The only reason she is still on the top is becasue her friends and family & or because the guys think she is hott.


  17. Randi_ have you ever considered joining a choir? That is a great way to fulfill your love of singing and, usually, the choral director will work on aspects of vocal technique.

    I admire anyone who works in the field of special education. That is a gift and a calling and requires a special talent. Good for you. we need more teachers like you in the world.


  18. I honestly don’t think we have a choir around here. It’s pretty rural!


  19. That’s too bad, Randi. Maybe a church choir?


  20. I really enjoy your running commentary on the American Idol series. Thanks for putting it together and sharing it with us. This year I’m so enamored of Melinda. She is simply amazing.

    p.s. might I suggest your critiques or comments be broken up by singer? The comment link after each singer’s critique implies the comment is specifically for that singer (i.e. “Share your comments about Melinda’s performance”). This causes a lot of commenters to leave off the singer’s name in their comment as they assume the comment is only about that singer from the link.
    Thanks, again…


  21. Reginald: Thanks so much for your kind comments. Also, you are absolutely correct and I was thinking of doing this beginning this week.

    So, I will start this new format beginning with the Top 11 performances and it will be fun to see which singers register the most comments.

    Bye for now!


  22. MFV was arguably the finest vocal performance ever seen on the IDOL stage, and one of the best renditions of this song I have heard anywhere. Her other semifinal performances (SYBG and IAW) rounded out a brilliant trifecta and firmly established her as perhaps the most versatile song stylist this show has ever seen. But MFV stands alone as the crown jewel in this very gifted performer’s arsenal.


  23. Heaven help me with all the short forms. It took me a few minutes to realize that you were speaking about Melinda’s “My Funny Valentine” . Anyway – I couldn’t agree more. She is excellent – an absolute jewel!


  24. SYBG = Since You’ve Been Gone. IAW = I’m a Woman.
    MFV = My Funny Valentine.

    Sorry for all the shorthand. That format is standard on another chat site and using it has become force of habit.



  1. American Idol Season 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 10 Female Performances « - March 1, 2007

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