Soprano, mezzo or contralto?

As 'Laura's Blog' puts it so well, this is a common question which any singing teacher can take either 5 minutes or 5 years to answer properly. It depends on a number of elements, but significantly on (i) the range (notes of sufficient quality available to the singer; (ii) the timbre of the voice (texture and characteristics of the relevant your voice). Technically speaking: a soprano range is Middle C to high C, 2 octaves above (C4 to C6). A mezzo-soprano range is A3 to A5. A contralto range is F3 to F5. In pop music, however, a soprano is not required to sing the extreme notes found in classical music, but she will share the most common characteristics of the soprano, a light to medium weight, sweet agile voice, e.g. Beyoncé, Leona Lewis, Duffy, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Celine Dion. Soul and gospel singers tend to lend more weight to their voices, a common characteristic of the mezzo-soprano. Examples: Adele, Dinah Washington, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin and Jennifer Hudson. The contralto is the lowest female voice, often suited to jazz, with a deep, warm quality. Eg. Amy Winehouse, Sarah Vaughan, Alicia Keys and Sade. It is important to bear in mind that a quality voice can often sing outside of its own voice category. For example, Aretha Franklin has sung many songs in a soprano key and many of Amy Winehouse’s songs are suitable for mezzo-sopranos. It depends on tessitura (tessitura is a judgement of where most the notes in a song lie e.g. high or low, or in the middle of the range). (Thank you, Laura's Blog)
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“ Sometimes a saccaharine mezzo, and sometimes a contralto ” - jgcorrea
Patsy Cline
Soundtrack, The Departed
Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932 in Winchester, Virginia. Her brush with show business came at age four when she won a prize in an amateur tap dancing contest. By the time she entered grade school, her family was fully aware of her musical talent. On her eighth birthday...
“ mezzo-soprano ” - jgcorrea
Soundtrack, Skyfall
“ Mezzo ” - jgcorrea
Carly Simon
The daughter of Richard Simon, co-founder of the Simon and Schuster publishing company, Carly got her start in music singing in coffee houses with her sister Lucy in the early 60s. After an unsuccessful attempt to launch a solo career, Carly burst onto the music scene in 1971 with her first Top 10 hit...
“ contralto ” - jgcorrea
“ Contralto ” - jgcorrea
“ contralto ” - jgcorrea
Zarah Leander
Beginning her acting-singing career in provincial Swedish theaters with operetta in 1928 and a success in a touring revue by Ernst Rolf in 1929, she soon worked her way up to starring roles in Stockholm and earned well from records. In 1935 she got a leading operetta role in Vienna, offered by 'Max Hansen', despite her initially imperfect command of German...
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Marlene Dietrich
Her father was a police lieutenant and imbued in her a military attitude to life. Marlene was known in school for her "bedroom eyes" and her first affairs were at this stage in her life - a professor at the school was terminated. She entered the cabaret scene in 1920s Germany, first as a spectator then as a cabaret singer...
“ Contralto ” - jgcorrea
Hildegard Knef
Hildegard Frieda Albertine Knef was born on December 28, 1925 in Ulm, Germany. In 1940, she began studying acting. Even before the fall of the Third Reich, she appeared in several films, but most of them were only released after the war. To avoid being raped by Soviet soldiers, she dressed like a young man and was sent to a camp for prisoners of war...
“ Ella Fitzgerald described Hildegard Knef as "the best singer without a voice." Her smoky, precise, sometimes impetuous nature, and her consistently soulful presentations of laconic, ironic texts made her a unique phenomenon in German pop music. ” - jgcorrea
“ French contralto ” - jgcorrea
Shirley Bassey
Shirley Bassey was born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales, and raised in the nearby working class neighborhood of Splott. Her mother was originally from Yorkshire, and her father was a Nigerian seaman who left the family when she was less than two. She later helped to support her family by working in an Enamelware factory...
“ Mezzo ” - jgcorrea
“ Astonishing contralto ” - jgcorrea
“ Silky contralto ” - jgcorrea
Florence Ballard
Florence "Flo" Ballard was born and grew up in Detroit in the Brewster-Douglas public housing project for minories, where Diana Ross and Mary Wilson also grew up. The three childhood friends began singing together as the group The Primettes in 1959. The group became known as The Supremes in 1964 when Motown Record president Berry Gordy signed them up...
“ Florence was a soprano. However, she could sing low too and on many of her leads she sings in her chest voice in the contralto/mezzo-soprano range. Most recordings that feature her on backing have her singing the soprano (high) part. ” - jgcorrea
Julie Andrews
Julia Elizabeth Wells was born on October 1, 1935, in England. Her mother, Barbara Ward (Morris), and stepfather, both vaudeville performers, discovered her freakish but undeniably lovely four-octave singing voice and immediately got her a singing career. She performed in music halls throughout her childhood and teens...
“ Awesome soprano ” - jgcorrea
Édith Piaf
When one thinks of Edith Piaf, one thinks of love, sorrow and music. One did not breathe without the other two. Born in Paris practically on the streets on December 19, 1915, she struggled from day one, the daughter of street performers. The mother, a singer, eventually abandoned both Edith and her father for a solo career...
“ Legendary contralto ” - jgcorrea
Carmen Miranda
Soundtrack, Radio Days
Carmen Miranda was born Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha on February 9, 1909, near Porto, Portugal, in the town of Marco de Canavezes. Not long after her birth her family moved to Brazil, where her father was involved in the produce business. The family settled in the then-capital city of Rio de Janeiro...
“ soprano ” - jgcorrea
Judy Garland
One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Era, Judy Garland was a much-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept theatre-goers entertained with an array of delightful musicals. She was born Frances Ethel Gumm on 10 June 1922 in Minnesota...
“ Contralto ” - jgcorrea
Sarah Brightman
Soundtrack, Wanted
Sarah Brightman's soprano voice has sold millions of records and been heard in arenas, cathedrals, and Olympic stadiums around the world. Brightman is the winner of more than 180 gold and platinum awards in 40 countries, and is a concert artist who has performed before millions of fans on every continent...
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Joan Baez
Self, Woodstock
Joan Baez was the middle daughter of Albert Vinicio and Joan Bridge Baez. At age 10, her father took a job (and the family) to Baghdad, Iraq, for a year, after which they moved to Palo Alto, CA, home of Stanford University. In 1956, she bought her first guitar and heard Martin Luther King, Jr.'s lecture on nonviolence; the following year...
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Soundtrack, Goodfellas
Very famous Italian singer. In the sixties she had a love affair with actor Corrado Pani who was married to another woman at the time and gave birth to a son. Because of this she was banned from TV studios for many years. During the last 20 years she has not shown her face in public and has not appeared in any film or television show.
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Roberta Flack
Roberta Flack was born February 10, 1937 (1939 according to some sources), in Black Mountain, North Carolina, a small town located about 10 miles (18 kilometers) from the city of Asheville, North Carolina. She is best known for her love ballad "Killing Me Softly With His Song", released in 1969. She earned a music scholarship to Howard University and graduated with a BA in Music...
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Dinah Washington
Soundtrack, Shutter Island
Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the former Ruth Lee Jones moved with her family to Chicago as a young girl. She considered the Windy City her true home. And it was there in early 1940s that a local nightclub owner provided her first gig - and a new name that she would make famous. By 1959 she had earned a Grammy for her version of the song "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes." In his 2001 biography Q...
“ Mezzo ” - jgcorrea
Renate Müller
Highly popular German star Renate Muller was the toast of late 20s Berlin along with the legendary Marlene Dietrich. Unlike Dietrich, however, she suffered at the hands of the Nazis and died under mysterious circumstances. Renate was born in Munich on April 26, 1906, the daughter of a newspaper editor-in-chief and a painter...
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Soundtrack, Under the Sand
“ soprano ” - jgcorrea
Mártha Eggerth
From the day she was born Martha lived in a world of music. For sure her father was a banker but he was also an amateur pianist. As for her mother, she was a housewife but also a very talented opera singer who had given up her career for the joys of matrimony and motherhood. It does not come as a surprise...
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Jeanette MacDonald
Actress, San Francisco
She was the third daughter of Daniel and Anne MacDonald, younger sister to Blossom (MGM's character actress Marie Blake), whom she followed to New York and a chorus job in 1920. She was busy in a string of musical productions. In 1928 Paramount tested and rejected her, but a year later Ernst Lubitsch saw her test and picked her to play opposite Maurice Chevalier in The Love Parade...
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Eithne, the fourth youngest of nine children, comes from the small village of Dore (Dobhar in Irish) in the Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair) region of County Donegal in the northwest of the Republic of Ireland. She now lives in Killiney, a coastal district on the southern outskirts of Dublin The family is very musical and her parents played in a family dance band before settling down...
“ Mezzo ” - jgcorrea
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Loreena McKennitt
Soundtrack, The Santa Clause
Loreena McKennitt was born in Manitoba and began her music career peforming in a number of places including Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada before settling in Ontario. Her music was widely used in the TV series EZ Streets and is now heard in Roar.
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Mary Hopkin
Mary Hopkin was born in Pontardawe, Wales on 3 May 1950. In her teens she made some modest success as a Welsh folk singer until one day, on 4 May, 1968, one day after her 18th birthday, she appeared on the television talent show Opportunity Knocks, a show which featured talented (and sometimes not-so-talented) up-and-coming show business personalities who competed with one another for audience votes...
“ Soprano ” - jgcorrea
Christina Aguilera
Soundtrack, Get Smart
Christina Maria Aguilera was born on December 18, 1980, in Staten Island, New York, to Shelly Loraine (Fidler) and Fausto Wagner Xavier Aguilera. Her father is Ecuadorian and her mother, who is American-born, has English, Scots-Irish, and German ancestry. Her parents divorced when she was young and she lived with her mother...
“ Aguilera is a soprano, having a vocal range spanning four octaves (from B♭2 to C♯7). ” - jgcorrea
Yma Sumac
Soundtrack, The Big Lebowski
Known for her astonishing 4 1/2 octave vocal range, Yma Sumac (AKA Ima or Imma Sumack) is from Ichocán, Peru, a town high in the Andes. From an early age she performed in radio and movies and made recordings throughout South America. She came to the United States in the 1940s and performed with a small group of musicians and dancers...
“ Yma Sumac was the queen of exotica! Voice Type: Contralto. Vocal Range (B2 - C♯7) ” - jgcorrea
“ lovely light soprano ” - jgcorrea