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Audra McDonald May 10, 2009

Posted by Judy in Musings.
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Several years ago, a good friend told me about Audra McDonald and said I should listen to some of her recordings.  Being the busy music teacher that I was, I didn’t get around to looking her up.  A year or two later, I bumped into a recording and called my friend excitedly saying, “hey, have you heard of Audra McDonald?”  She totally must’ve thought I was an idiot, but she was kind enough to say, “yeah, remember I told you about her ahile back?”

Anyway, I thought she was great, and even had my friend sing “Lay Down Your Head” from McDonald’s “How Glory Goes” CD at my wedding.  We ended up changing some of the words, couldn’t be offending the good church folk, ya know?=)

Fast forward several years to the present . . .. I’m sitting watching Private Practice and see the name Audra McDonald in the credits.  I’m thinking, “Really, is this the same one from the CD?  She looks kinda different.”  I consult the ever-useful Wikipedia and discover that, yes, this is the same one from the CD.  Obviously I knew she acted in the musical theater sense, I just didn’t know that she also did screen acting.  I listened to her CD several days later, and it suddenly sounded totally different.  It was like I was listening to a new CD or something, her sound now seemed to be completely colored by her acting on Private Practice.  As I’ve listened to the CD more, the weirdness has subsided, but the sound still strikes me as different, still wonderfully velvety, but different.  This got me to thinking how the appearance of a performer and their previous “gigs” and experiences can change how a person perceives their performance.  I can’t decide if it’s just me, or if it’s my professional musician brain, or if most listeners have this experience.  I’ve always told my students that people really don’t come to recitals to SEE how beautiful you are, though that is a nice extra, they come to LISTEN to your sound and your interpretation of the music.  Maybe I’ve been leading my students astray for all of these years.  Maybe, just maybe, the appearance really does matter.

Take Susan Boyle, for example.  The woman really does have a good sound, decent stage presence, etc.  So why are we just now hearing about her, when she’s in her 50’s?  From all accounts, her appearance has been her biggest “flaw”, for lack of a better word.  Check out the YouTube video and look at the faces of the audience members, and the judges for that matter, when she starts to sing.  Complete and utter shock.  What, were they expecting some awful sound to come out of her just because she was unattractive?  I mean, really, physiologically speaking, your looks don’t have a think on the planet to do with the quality of your sound.  So why do we think it should?  Maybe the sound filter in our brains changes based on what our eyes are seeing.  All of this strikes me as very strange, interesting, yet strange!

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Comments»

1. Lita - May 10, 2009

En verdad la vida da muchas vueltas.

La apariencia personal siempre a tenido mucho que ver en todos los aspectos de la vida. Desafortunadamente mucha gente te categoriza por tu apariencia personal en vez de tus talentos.

No podemos cambiar al mundo!

Love you


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