I don’t talk about music much here, since my focus is more on books, but it is one of my other loves. While I have some specific tastes, I thought it would be fun to talk about a few of my favorite female vocalists.
Olivia Cheney: Cheney has an ethereal and lovely voice. Both her solo albums and her collaboration with The Decembrists as Offa Rex are great, but I’m especially drawn to her interpretation of the old folk songs I love. One to listen to: “The Old Churchyard”
Valerie June: R introduced me to Valerie June and I can’t believe I haven’t already been listening to her for years! Her voice is entirely unique and beautiful. Some of her songs are upbeat, some quiet and contemplative. I’ve been listening to her on repeat this summer. One to listen to: “Astral Plane”
Rhiannon Giddens: I’ve been a fan of The Carolina Chocolate Drops for a few years now–and they are well worth a listen–but Giddens’s solo album is amazingly beautiful. I especially loved her take on Nina Simone’s version of “Black is the Color.”
Maria Callas: Callas’s voice gives me chills; we had a CD of arias from her that I listened to a lot as a teenager and she’s still one of my all-time favorites. I’m not even sure how to explain what sets her apart from other opera singers, but I do know I’ll always love her voice. One to listen to: “Un bel di vedremo”*
Emily Smith: I’m not sure how I originally discovered her work, but I’ve liked Smith for a long time now. She’s a folk singer from Scotland and I really love the way she interprets and reinterprets both traditional songs and recent folk favorites. One to listen to: “Lord Donald”
*Unfortunately, the opera that’s the source for this song is hideously racist