If ever there was a song and video that speaks to the current world situation, it has to be this powerful performance of”If I Can Dream” by The King himself, Elvis Presley. The message contained in this song rings loud and clear and strikes at the heart and soul of the uncertain times in which we live.
Every aspect of this performance spoke to me as an artist, teacher and human being. Everything.
First of all – the performance – and the fact that it was performed live. LIVE. And, if there are any doubters out there that this was not the case, then check out Elvis’ breathy “Thank You and Good Night” at the end of this video performance. He could barely speak. Actually, it made me smile and ponder how he could sing without evidence of a breathy quality in his voice since vocal fatigue was not an issue until the song was over. He kept the momentum and the adrenaline moving throughout this number similar to how an athlete pushes himself toward the finish line and then collapses
This man poured every ounce of strength he could summon to communicate an inspiring, living and monumental performance of this number without worrying about whether he should stage the number for greater visual effect. There was no need. Elvis lived it and allowed his body and voice to reach the audience in a very spiritual and meaningful way. No lights, no fancy stage decorations, no jumping around. Just Elvis at his best – or rather, better than his best.
This is what one calls artistry.
And then there is THE VOICE. As a vocal teacher, I watched in awe as this gifted performer from humble beginnings sang with what I can say are impeccable technical skills. The round mouth, the relaxed jaw, the open and liberated body movements, the forward momentum of the phrase lines, the seamlessly sustained vowels – all these elements and more were a joy to behold.
Like everything else Elvis did during his iconic singing career, part of me wonders if this was self taught. Some singers are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and, instinctively, know how to sing. It really is a gift. However, given that Elvis was blessed with a naturally beautiful voice, this made the technical hurdles an easier road for him. No matter the reason, the technical skill was “on the money”.
And, then, there was the message. You know, I have heard this song often over the years and yet it touched me more than ever over the past couple of days here. Given the turmoil of today’s world, the message resounded more potently than ever before. Elvis sang it like a prayer and the spiritual impetus was not lost on this listener.
And, it will touch you as well. I promise.
Enjoy the video below and please share your thoughts with the MCL community.