We all need to find our voice. We listen to our parents (and whoever else is around and talking while we’re growing up) and we learn their language and their regional accents and dialects. But we decide how we want to sound: how loud or soft in tone, how high or low in pitch, how masculine or feminine, regardless of our gender.
Then, after we work out the ground rules, our ‘voice’ is more about what we say than how we say it. How much do we want our voice to reveal or conceal? Do we throw caution to the wind in favor of honesty or hold our cards close to the vest? Do we suppress our laughter, our tears, our beliefs, our racism? Bold and brassy? Strong and silent? And what parts do joking, or shouting, or lying, take in our voice?
Artists are told to find their voice as if it’s something hiding behind a rock, and maybe it is. Artists probably think more about finding their voice because it’s such a big part of the job description. You can hear Van Gogh’s across any room he’s placed in.
For writers, it’s mostly about the confidence that only comes from writing every single day. For singers it’s more literal. It’s the difference between Louis Armstrong and Whitney Houston. They’re both capable singers but which one sounds better depends on the ears of the beholder.
Just because you can hit a note doesn’t mean you have to, or even should. In music, the voice should be slave to the song. When the singer believes they are the master and the song is their slave bad things can happen. Really bad things. When the voice and the singer are the same, and the singer is honest, the best things happen. Like the voice in the clip above.
And like a lot of other things, our voices get stronger the more we use them.