Book Review – The Singers Talk: The greatest singers of our time discuss the one thing they’re never asked about: their voices by Jason Thomas Gordon

The author is the lead singer and drummer with Los Angeles-based band Kingsize so he starts from a position of strength when trying to get inside the head of a singer and their approach to the job. Over seventy artists gave their answers to the same set of questions. They are searching and seem to hit the mark with all those who participated. Some singers, sadly no longer with us are represented by someone close to them. If some of the answers needed additional information or there was information specific to a particular singer there are additional questions asked. (I found this particularly illuminating) The diversity of the answers make it an interesting read and it’s evident that everyone has given the questions their true attention, not just given perfunctory answers.

A whole range of artists across the music genres are asked the questions including Tony Bennett, Nick Cave, Dionne Warwick, Roger Daltry, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, Ozzy Osbourne and EmmyLou Harris to name but a few. I found it interesting to read second time around by comparing answers to particular questions.

The author talks of the brutality of having to go on stage and sing, night after night, the need to train and rest the voice, it’s a fragile instrument. The stories that unfold in the book are unique in the telling. They provide an intimate look at some very special people, what they do on and off stage and in the studio. I found out some very unexpected information which offered new insights into some of my favourite singers. I won’t spoil it by saying who! Jason hopes that the information given might help someone as they prepare to take that big step up to the microphone.

The questions were all of interest to me even though I could never claim to be a singer! However, I have my favourites. Firstly “Did you have any vocal training ?” and then “What’s changed the most about your voice since you started” and then the very last question “If you could ask any singer about their voice,who would it be and what would you ask” These prompts got all the singers talking with a wide range of answers but no stock responses. A set of questions that probe into the most interesting of places.

This book offers so much. I feel it’s one to take pride of place on the music shelf and to be dipped into frequently. The fact that’s it’s for a good cause is an added bonus. It would make a magnificent present for any music lover and books are easily wrapped! Jason Thomas Gordon talks of the soul of the singer and I feel the book will touch the soul of the reader.

The Singers Talk is published by Permuted Press, out on 5th September. All proceeds to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Review by Carolyn Batcheler

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