I read an interview in which folk rocker Steve Earle called Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello “great singers.” Neither one of them had voices that could be considered good conventionally. So I asked him to expand on his comment. Why did he think Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan–whose nasal, shrill voice I likened to the worst aspects of my own voice–were great singers?
“They sell songs. They are good singers for the same reason that Ray Charles is a good singer and Hank Williams was a great singer. People that said Bob Dylan couldn’t sing in the early 60s were comparing him to Perry Como or something. It is an archaic idea to say that Bob Dylan is not a good singer,” said Earle. “I think it’s laughable at this point.”
“I don’t think people realize how much work goes into singing,” I replied.
“You have to work with the equipment that you are given,” said Earle. “But a voice isn’t what being a great singer is.”
So then, as long as I work diligently with the voice I have I have a shot at being a great singer no matter what the voice I was born with sounds like?