I have given myself the gift of singing lessons and my instructor has told me, to my surprise, that I artificially lower my speaking voice — a hazard she said was particular to women who work in male-dominated fields. Until hearing this, I didn’t know that I had prided myself on the slight husk of my voice, which I was being told was not organic but socially constructed.
I balked when she further informed me that the true tone and color of my voice approximated that of Diana Ross — a warm, feathery light soprano. Diana Ross’ voice is, yes, iconic. It is soft and smooth and so . . . feminine. I sat with my displeasure and came to a realization: in working to actualize my feminist ideals, I was, ironically, shunting my femininity.
This is all to say that I have of late been retrieving my “true” voice by singing songs by the Supremes. “Someday We’ll Be Together” is my favorite from the all-female Motown trio. As my vocal cords tighten and slacken and I lift the song out of my throat to let it ring throughout my head, I embody the dual resonance of the lyrics.
Typical of pop love songs, there is a longing for a love that has been lost. Yet — filtered through the honey-sweet sound of Ross’ voice — the song also expresses delight and sultry anticipation. Ross exults in divine faith, a deep knowing that — by singing this very song — she is conjuring her lost love.
You’re far away
From me my love
And just as sure my, my baby
As there are stars above
I wanna say, I wanna say, I wanna say
Someday we’ll be together
Yes we will, yes we will
I have found myself singing this song not only at lessons (and in the shower), but also on sidewalks and subways, in supermarket and drugstore aisles. And as I do so, I delight in summoning a voice that I know is already mine but that had nonetheless gone missing.
(Song recommendation by Hawa Allan)