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Subject: Kate Smith and opera/classical repertoire
From: Scott Grunow <[log in to unmask]>
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Date:Thu, 3 Nov 2016 08:33:07 -0400
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Yes, Kate Smith did sing the famous aria from Samson with Stokowski. I wish there was a recording of it. 


Now, I also read that she actually either sang a performance of or possibly just rehearsed the contralto arias in Handel's Messiah; http://listserv.bccls.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9912B&L=OPERA-L&T=0&F=&S=&P=202978.  She experienced difficulty because she had to follow the conductor, not vice versa, which was the case in her singing of popular repertoire of the period. Kate could not read music (again, so I heard), but she had perfect pitch and excellent diction. She prepared extensively and intensely every song, really phrasing intelligently based on the words. 


Also, Kate was a true contralto. She had high notes that a trained contralto usually has, but they really aren't that high (Eflat, E, right below the staff; I know in one recording that is her high note in 
God Bless America, on the final word "home"), but sound high in her voice, because she is able to keep the same contralto quality up there (it's not really a belt, though in her latter years, it does sound sometimes like she is doing that a bit around D and E), though I noticed in her early singing she is using head voice in the higher pasages. By the sixities she was eschewing high notes. I don't know if she ever went above a G above the staff, or even an F, even in early days.


Also, Kate had no formal vocal training. I believe some advised her against doing so, so easy and natural was her voice production.


I love her and her voice, despite her extreme right wing views (she was against labor unions (because they are so Communist, you know) as well as the usual "anything other than heterosexual sex when one is married"), but then, her views were typical for a woman of her class during her prime period.  


I've been meaning to try her famous coffee cake recipe; see http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/kate-smith-coffee-cake.


Mezzomaniac 





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