I have previously written a blog about one of the hardest songs for men to sing so I think it’s only fair that I write one for women too. Even though there are no specific songs men can sing and ones that women can sing. One of my favourite versions of ‘Listen’ by Beyonce was sung by Dalton Harris on the X Factor in 2018 and one of my favourite versions of ‘Purple Rain’ was sung by Nicole Scherzinger at Prince’s funeral. So that just goes to show that anyone can sing anything if they work hard enough! I just thought I’d title the blogs as I have because the Dreamgirls character who sings this song is a woman and the character who sings Gethsemane is a man.
From a really young age, I have been in love with musical theatre, as you could probably tell from two of my past blogs. My dad has always delighted in telling me how I used to be played Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim and other great musical composers when I was in my mum’s tummy. For as long as I can remember, one of my favourite songs has always been And I’m Telling You from Dreamgirls (specifically the Jennifer Hudson version)… What a vocal!
Just like most other incredible ballads, And I’m Telling You starts in a gorgeous soft tone and then moves through the song into an amazing belt. This technique in itself is one of the hardest for people to do and if done wrong can really injure the voice. When Jennifer Hudson sings this song, her vocal transitions are completely flawless. One way you can help yourself with your own transitions is by doing vocal warm-ups every day, particularly ones specifically tailored to vocal transitions. If you guys would like to try singing this song yourselves, I’d say to make sure that you are not too breathy at the start as it can damage your voice and won’t allow you to prepare yourself for the big notes in the song. You also need to make sure that when you sing the big belting notes, you prepare as you don’t want to harm your voice. As we always like to say at Vocademy:
Emotional commitment to the song:
This song comes at a point in Dreamgirls where one of the lead characters Effie White has just lost everything because she tried to stand up for what she believed in. At the start of the musical, Effie fronts the Dreamettes and once entered into a talent show, she falls for Curtis Taylor, who later becomes their manager. As the musical goes on, you see Effie being replaced by her best friend Deena Jones (as Effie did not fit the standard of beauty that Curtis was after to front the group), Not only does Deena become the new lead singer, she also catches Curtis’ affections and Effie is kicked out of the group. And I’m Telling You is Effie’s last attempt at trying to get Curtis back and to be back in the group. So, as you can imagine, this song requires a lot of desperation and devastation to run through it. One of the ways Jennifer Hudson does this vocally is by adding a growl into some of her words. This technique is super tricky to do and, much like the rest of the techniques in this song, can be very harmful to the voice if not done properly. It comes naturally for some people but can be really hard for others to grasp. If growling is a vocal technique you’re interested in learning, be sure to get in contact with us to book in a free half an hour taster session with one of our fabulous vocal coaches. If you are already a student of ours, let your Vocademy tutor know that this is something you’re interested in and we will be happy to help.
Support and Projection:
Support is absolutely key when singing this song, or any song with a belt in it. This song in particular has the belt technique running all the way through the middle and end of the song. As you can imagine, with no support, this would put a lot of strain on the voice. Here is a simple exercise to start to feel your support:
- Place your hands on your tummy, just above your belly button.
- Take in a big deep breath for 4 seconds and your tummy should expand and go outwards.
- Then hold onto that breath for 4 seconds. Whilst you’re holding your breath, tap your tummy and it should feel firm.
- Now, breathe out for 4 seconds.
- Repeat the above steps until you’re feeling very comfortable.
Another way to start to feel the support is by placing your hands on your tummy and coughing, again, you could feel the tummy contract and harden, then release.
With all of this in mind and the difficulty of all of these techniques, I believe "And I’m Telling You" is one of the hardest songs for a woman to sing.
Vocal Coach Lauren x