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The Best Female Singer We All Forgot About
As a lover of 60's music as well as strong female vocalists, it saddens me that some great talent from those days has been long forgotten. I'm not talking about Janis Joplin, because she, most deservedly, has not been forgotten (although, folks would do well to remember her a little bit better and pick up a damn record, or at least illegally download some of her songs, because that mama could WORK IT).
I am talking about Miss Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane. Grace was originally a model, which isn't surprising, as she was -- and still is at 70 years old -- quite pretty, but thank god she opened her mouth and starting belting it out, because boy can she! Grace started singing with a band called the Great Society in the mid-sixties, with whom she performed the (later, Airplane) hits "Somebody to Love" and her very own "White Rabbit," among some other really great songs. I recently aquired a Great Society record which included a 1970 article on the back cover by music editor James Goodfriend about Grace's voice and singing style which describes her sound better than I ever could, and I think it sums up in a dead-on way that unique, powerful voice that we all need to give another listen to:
I hope Grace Slick never has to sing through her ears (though I'm not at all sure she couldn't make a go of it) because I'm much too fond of what comes out of her throat and mouth. As I've come to know her through her recordings with the Jefferson Airplane, and earlier with the Great Society, I've come to feel that she is one of the outstanding pop voices of our era.
She is, like all great singers, unduplicatable. One can hear where her style comes from, and one can correspondingly hear, in the voices of others, the effect of her influence, but no one else sounds just like Grace Slick, not even when singing one of her tunes.
She isn't a pretty-sounding singer. It's a fine voice, clear and even, always on pitch, and beautifully focused, but it has the kind of steely edge to it that forbids prettiness. There are some singers who seem to sing through a perpetual smile; it doesn't matter whether or not you can see it, you can hear it. Gracie sounds like she's singing through clenched teeth. And maybe she is. There's a strong, sometimes ironic, sometimes taunting content to much of what she sings. Above all, there is a terrific intensity -- not an emotional intensity or a sexual intensity, but just an intensity.
Just a little advance warning, so that when you hear that strong, beautiful, razor-edge voice cutting through the air, you won't be completely shattered.
Well said, Mr. Goodfriend. Very well said. Viva le chant de Grace! Give this bitch a listen; she'll knock your socks off.