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American Idol Season 11 Top 13

Vocal Masterclass Discussion For American Idol Season 11 Top 13 Performance Show: The Music Of Stevie Wonder And Whitney Houston


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I am on vacation here but will try to keep up with all the blog topics associated with American Idol.

That being said, we are off to the races once again. I am loving this Top 13 so much and it is very nice to see that the show is unfolding in an unbiased manner.

All the singers are so talented and so diverse, so I am sure we are in for some great entertainment over the next three months.

The music of the legendary icons, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder, is a wonderful way in which to begin this exciting season.

I hope to have a Top 13 Vocal Masterclass article online tomorrow. It may be shorter than what is customary, but I will address pertinent issues for each singer as best as I can.

Good luck to all the singers. And saunter over to the comments section to add your reviews. They are important to this MCL community. 🙂

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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

7 Responses to “Vocal Masterclass Discussion For American Idol Season 11 Top 13 Performance Show: The Music Of Stevie Wonder And Whitney Houston”

  1. I hope you are having a great vacation MCL.

    Mary J Blige was the most effective mentor that I can recall on Idol. She did an excellent job of spotting the deficiencies and demonstrating the correct approach the kids should take. She really helped them to perform at a very high level across the board. She was great and I would like to see her do it again real soon.

    I was disappointed that Elise and Shannon didn’t have a better night. I really like Elise’s musical taste from what I’ve seen on You Tube. She does a lot of Blues and Soul music. I think the judges were a little bit hard on her and I hope she makes the cut. Erica had a good night tonight but came dangerously close to revealing her weakness which seems to be her range. Hollie was outstanding and Jessica was unbelievably good. I was glad that Jimmy spoke to her about the excessive use of vibrato. Oddly enough, if I could choose one of tonight’s performances to polish into a new artist debut record I think I would choose Skylar’s. That’s odd because she is my least favorite girl this season but she did more to make that song her own and in a ironic twist, she would be turning a Whitney song into a country song which is of course the opposite of what Whitney herself did so famously.

    The boys had a good night for the most part but only Joshua captured the essence of Stevie. Keep in mind that was basically what the judges were faulting Elise for. It would be hard to pick a low man on the guy’s side, but if I had to pick one it would be Heejun, whose performance and great sense of humor I enjoyed a lot.

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  2. Here is my personal vocal masterclass for tonight’s performances –

    Joshua – “I Wish” – This was an energetic performance from start to finish. He took the great advice from Mary J. Blige to really get into the feel of this song and deliver a lively performance. I loved the accappella part, very nice, and also that great run he included near the end. A great way to end the song. There was great movement toward the audience to connect with them. Vocals were solid. The only thing is starting first, which can be a disadvantage. Overall, good job!

    Elise – I think Jimmy and Mary J. did her a favor by steering her away from “Greatest Love of All”. She doesn’t have the power to for that song. She has this bluesy, r&b soul voice that is quite distinctive. I think the choice of “I’m Your Baby Tonight” was a much better one, but Elise never seemed comfortable with it. She seemed to be fighting the melody all the way. I don’t know if it was lack of rehearsal time, not liking the song itself or what, but Elise just never seemed to find her way. I heard some off key notes, in particular struggling with her lower range. She seemed to have the most trouble with the chorus. I have yet to see what this girl can really do. I know there is a wonderful voice inside her, but she has to find the right song that works for her.

    Jermaine – “Knocks Me Off My Feet” – Oh how I love, love his voice! It gives me chills. He is so technicall gifted that his only problem is that he can get caught up in the notes and forget about connecting with the song. I agree with JLo here. He needs to get into the song and feel the emotion. The voice is there. He’s got the goods. One issue was in the chorus. I am not sure what happened. Randy said it was the way he changed the melody. I wondered if he went off key a bit. He doesn’t need frills or anything fancy. Just let that voice soar and tell us a story. His performance skills could use some improvement. Just loosen it up a little and reach out and grab that audience!

    Erika – “I Believe in You and Me” – Great song choice for her! I love her lower register. She articulated the words, no breathiness. She has such beautiful tone in her voice, a lovely, rich quality. I thought she managed to get into the song and feel the words and emotion to deliver a nice interpretation. I loved that there was very little accompaniment, allowing her voice to shine.

    Colton – “Lately” – He was way out of his comfort zone with Stevie Wonder. I thought he had a rough beginning, breathy on the lower notes and losing them. I saw some facial tension and poor posture in the beginning, but I could sense him relax and work through it, getting better throughout the performance. He did a good job with a different genre of music and showed a tender, vulnerable side.

    Shannon – “I Have Nothing” – I had high hopes for this girl. She certainly showed in rehearsal that she has the pipes for this song. Mary J. gave her valuable advice about not thinking about the notes and feeling the song. Unfortunately, Shannon came out and did exactly what Mary J. advised against. Her nerves got the better of her and you could see in her eyes that she was thinking about hitting every note. When she went for that high note, I could see that she wasn’t going to make it. You have to let go and just flow with the song and trust in your voice to get the job done. She has a beautiful voice, which we did see in parts of the song, but tension takes a toll on vocals. Her voice cracked on that high note and my heart went out to her. She is so much better than what we saw tonight.

    Deandre – “Master Blaster” – What a great opening! I loved seeing Deandre walk down those stairs. This young man is oozing charisma and stage presence. You can’t take your eyes off him. I liked seeing do this reggae version, reminiscent of Naima last season. I also appreciated him only using the falsetto sparingly when the song called for it. Well done! I think he could try to articulate the words better. He is unique and totally his own.

    Skylar – “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” – Tonight this girl showed me what she’s got. I think she was initially uncomfortable with Mary J.’s suggestion of starting off softly and slowly. That’s why the beginning seemed a little shaky. Then she got off the stool and walked towards the audience and started to let the momentum build. Great job! She brought this song to a great crescendo and when she was in her power zone, she really brought the goods. Well done! Outstanding!

    Heejun – “All in Love is Fair” – This was a better song choice than last week’s “Angel”. He had some problems with his lower register. There was a lot of breathiness and the words were lost. However, when he hit his sweet spot, the lovely tone of his voice was showcased. I still think he is capable of even more.

    Hollie – “All the Man That I Need” – I admit that I was anticipating hearing this little girl take on a big Whitney power song. What a voice! Wow! She seems so confident and commands the stage with that amazing voice. Beautifully done. One of the real standout performances of the night. One very slight comment – at the end with the high note, she lifted her head. She has to visualize singing over that note and keeping her head level. As good as she is, she will sound even better. Bravo!

    Jeremy – “Ribbon in the Sky” – One of my all time favorite Stevie Wonder songs, but incredibly hard to sing. I will have to leave this to MCL, but I wondered if he was singing in a key that was too high. Or else it was just the difficulty of the song, with, the key changes and melodic shifts. He has a wonderful voice and brings such feeling to this performance, but he missed that high note near the end and that kind of made it end on a low note. This is such a hard song to pull off.

    Jessica – “I Will Always Love You” – What can I say? The biggest risk of the night and the best performance! The acappella beginning was amazing. I think what made this so extraordinary is the fact that she didn’t have the time that you would normally have to build to that big high note. She had to go for it earlier and that made it even harder. But she was so present in the song and it all flowed so beautifully, almost effortlessly. Then she went seamlessly to the very soft, sweet, lilting ending. I have no words, except to give her a standing “O”! Bravo, Bravo!

    Philippe – “Superstition” – He had the misfortune of following Jessica. There was way too much backup in this performance. I could barely hear him and he seemed to force his vocals in order to be heard. He had backup singers, musicians all over the place. I think less would have been more, in this case. He is original and creative, but I don’t know that his version worked. I think he was pushing his vocals from his throat way too much. He is very talented, but I think this didn’t quite come together.

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  3. The boys had a good night for the most part but only Joshua captured the essence of Stevie.

    Yes, you are right, Gene. I definitely see Joshua on the tour. Mary J did a terrific job assisting Jimmy. I remeber when he was handling the contestants alone, and I complained many times to Jimmy Iovine because he had too much testosterone in that studio! I like having guest mentors.

    Mindy, thank you for a thorough analysis of the contestants!! I also thought Jessica nailed it. She has an excellent chance to get into the TOP 2. We need to see a little more of her personality. I also found Hollie and Skylar to have terrific performances.

    For the guys, Joshua had the best singing performance. He worked that stage and looked thoroughly comfortable out there. I think a guy should go home. Overall, it was a really good night!

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  4. Well…I just happened to be home last night and nothing to do or watch, so I decided to give the top 13 another go!

    I liked Joshua

    I loved Elise; there were times throughout her song that she sounded like Michael Jackson, I loved that, I thought her voice was so cool. I think the judges were way to hard on her.

    I liked Jessica

    Sorry guys, but I didn’t care for Skylar on the top 24 and thought less of her last night.

    Still no one grabbed me and made me want to tune in each week…I tried!!!

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  5. I listened again today to my recording of last night’s performances. I usually don’t do this until the latter portion of the final competition, but I just felt like hearing them again with my eyes closed to see what I thought.

    Joshua was very good, but he was shouting a bit in places. He does push from his throat and that makes for a harsher sound. Still, he did very well with this performance. He did get that Stevie thing.

    Elise has a very unique sound, but I still felt that she was struggling with this song. It sounded like she wasn’t familiar with the song and maybe didn’t have enough time to get really comfortable with it. I still don’t think her original choice would have worked. While the judges were a little hard on her, she also has to remember to watch her attitude when on stage. She had this unpleasant expression on her face and then launched into a long, rambling series of comments that didn’t do her any favors. Less is more when you are responding to criticism. I think she just could have said that she gave it her best effort, which I believe she did. I think she is much better than what I heard last night.

    I hope that Jermaine can stay in this competition. I started reading a bunch of blog reviews last night and many didn’t like him at all. He has the issue that many technically skilled singers have, just like that guy on The Voice. They focus so much on the notes, getting them just right, and forget to be expressive and convey the emotion and feeling of the song. I really want to see Jermaine stay, because he has one of the most naturally gorgeous voices ever.

    Why didn’t I say that Erika is a contralto in my original critique? Listening to her with my eyes closed, it sounded even better. This was a truly stellar performance and I loved how she showed restraint and control. No over singing or overdoing it. I didn’t agree with JLo about her holding back. I think this song called for exactly the kind of performance and interpretation she delivered. There will be plenty of time for her to let it all hang out. This was inspired.

    Colton did struggle a lot in the beginning, but he got it together and really delivered. He got his vocals under control, relaxed a little and showed us something different.

    It was hard listening to Shannon with my eyes closed. I could hear the tension in her voice. Someone online said that she is only fifteen! I had no idea. She has such a strong voice that she managed to pull off some parts of the song, but nerves caused her to miss the big notes that she seemed to be focusing on so much. Mary J. told her not to run to the notes, but to let it all flow. I hope to see her come back strong.

    I read some really bad things about Deandre and was really surprised. The divergence of opinion online is amazing. I think people hear something based on their own personal musical preferences. He did get a little raw and shouty in parts, but overall I thought this was a very good effort.

    Skylar was the biggest surprise for me. I wasn’t impressed with her until I heard her last night. She is a quick study and very confident on that stage. She has a powerful presence and a powerhouse voice. I am liking her more than I thought I would.

    I didn’t get into too much technical stuff with my original critique. It’s so early in the finals and there are a lot of singers. I just wanted to become more familiar with each of them. I hear some issues with Heejun that were even more evident on a second listening with my eyes closed. He really does have to relax and push from the diaphragm more. He loses the lower notes and also I noticed that his enunciation leaves a lot to be desired. But his voice has such a lovely quality to it.

    Hollie sounded even more amazing on a second listen. She has one of the more exceptional voices, but she also brings the emotion along with the technical skill. She is poised beyond her years. I am just blown away by this young lady.

    I worry for Jeremy. I could hear a lot of problems listening to him again. He seems so vulnerable, emotional and nervous when he sings. I don’t think he was singing in the wrong key, I just think he was off key and unable to hit the notes. He has a nice sound, but he has to get more relaxed when on stage.

    Jessica was even more amazing listening again. I don’t know how she pulled it off, but she did. One of the truly great performances that will live on in Idol lore.

    I don’t know why, but I just didn’t like Philippe’s performance. I think he is incredibly talented, but this still didn’t work for me. I expect much better things from him as he moves on in the competition.

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  6. Mindy – I forgot to thank you for your detailed analysis of the singers. It was spot on. Would you mind if I added it as a blog topic? It may not go up until tomorrow. If yes, do you want me to publish your first or second set of comments?

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  7. MCL,

    Oh, I don’t know what to say! Thank you for your kind words. However, reading your Masterclass article, I realized that we seem to differ on Elise. You seem to be okay with it.

    I think if you would like to post it as a blog topic, I would prefer my first set of comments. Those were my initial impressions and my second set of comments really weren’t that different, just some additional observations and thoughts.

    I am honored that asked!

    Now I feel that maybe I have given something back to this site that I love so much! 🙂

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