About LauraBelle

Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

Grace Notes – American Idol Commentary, The Final 6


We all know what we like and don’t like on American Idol, but sometimes it’s nice to know what a professional vocalist would think. Believe it or not, the opinion here differs from the “pros” of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell. After working with Grace Ann Drake on a successful article last week The Final 6 we thought she deserved a little more time to say what she needed to.

Grace Ann Drake is a classically trained Soprano who has performed worldwide, including Europe and Russia, and while at home in the United States she has performed at Carnegie Hall with the Cincinnati International Touring Chorale and the Bell Canto Chorus of Milwaukee. After receiving her BA in Education from the University of Northern Iowa, Drake taught school. Later, at a radio station WDPR in Dayton, Drake was an announcer, planning her own classical music programming, as well as producing specials for the station such as Listener’s Choice and the Adventures in Time series about the Dayton Flood of 1913. The series won a program of the year award from the Ohio Educational Telecommunications Commission. She later drew upon her talents and years of training to write about music for the Dayton City Paper and a WDPR publication, Keynotes.

Chris gave a very crisp, snappy performance this week. His voice sounded fresh and rested. He had nice support on the held notes. The notes on the runs were all right on point too. He dropped his jaw on the last note of the song which gave him a beautiful rounded tone and plenty of breath to the end of the phrase. He sings with a lot of passion and it comes through to the audience.

Melinda seemed a little unsteady at the beginning. It is true that Melinda has a strong voice and sings with great confidence. However, I have yet to hear her sing a song that makes me sit up and take notice. I don’t care what the judges say, the presentations are boring. Bland. I don’t feel any fire coming from her. I often have trouble understanding the words too. If the listeners can’t understand what you are saying, there isn’t much point in even singing the song. I hope she works on her diction.

Blake played it safe with his song choice this week. I can’t tell if his performance was lifeless or if he was just being reverent to the song. His tone is always well centered. I think what the judges are saying is that Imagine has already been done. They get upset about doing someone’s else’s song like getting upset with LaKisha the last two weeks. Well, every contestant up there is covering someone’s big hit. The judges keep saying it like a broken record. It is impossible not to and the judges just use that as a cop out.

LaKisha is nothing like Fantasia. I repeat: Every contestant up there is covering someone’s big hit. It is impossible not to and the judges just use that as a cop out. So she covered a Fantasia song. SO WHAT? When other contestants make a song their own, the judges embrace it. It is highly possible that LaKisha will turn out to be just as wonderfully and magnificently unique as Fantasia. The judges can stop the “shouting” label now. Their ignorance is showing. I feel that if they don’t personally like the particular song chosen, they give negative remarks and they should just judge the performance on the performance. They shoot the messenger. Pitch problems. One time she had to search for a note near the lower part of her register. This is the only time I have heard this from her. The power and impressive fluid flexibility of her voice trumps any other singer on the stage. She is so open in her presentation of the song that the listener feels everything she is feeling. You can’t top that! Every singer dreams of that connection with the listeners. It is important to know your audience and she does. The audience was so unhappy with Simon they wouldn’t let him finish. LaKisha told Ryan that she was happy and that speaks volumes to me. Despite what the judges said to her, she knows she did just fine.

Phil was very impressive this week. His voice reminded me of Michael Bolton this week. It was a solid performance and he had everything working right. He opened his mouth, dropped his jaw, held sustained notes and finished without running out of breath. He is enjoyable to watch.

Jordin: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel is one of the staples of the Broadway repertoire and is beloved by the whole world and so I am sure that familarity secured many votes. I don’t know why the judges are pushing Jordin. If they really can’t hear her vocal problems, they have no right judging these contestants. Jordin has many bad habits. Her voice was more uneven than ever especially on sustained notes because she wasn’t supporting. This also caused her to run out of breath at the end of her phrases. The whole vocal process starts with support from the diaphargm. If you don’t do that, nothing else works. Her vibrato is forced, and she pops her chords. Don’t get me wrong, the instrument is there but if she continues to pop her chords she will develop nodules and soon sound like a certain raspy voiced news announcer. Near the end of the song the tone was thin, shrill and over loud. The last note was almost out of her range again which was hard to listen to. Her voice is beginning to tire.

Write to me at classical.dj@att.net


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