Yesterday we discussed the current lack of talent in the music industry, so what better time is there than the present to highlight three examples of artists who represent true greatness? For that, we shall take a look back at the most gifted singers of our generation: Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.
Among the best-selling artists in the history of recorded music, Dion, Carey and Houston are often ranked as the very best singers of all time. Of course, such a standing is debatable – personally, I consider Aretha Franklin better than all – but their incredible talents have always been indisputable.
Fans of Dion, Carey and Houston refer to them as The Vocal Trinity, which was a term reportedly coined by Simon Cowell in the early stages of American Idol, and they have inspired countless singers following their lead. Hence, this week’s Way Back Wednesday will acknowledge some of the contributions of each diva and their impact on the music industry.
Unmatched as the best-selling Canadian artist of all time, Dion has a glassy voice and lungs of steel. Her piercing soprano voice is one of the most impressive instruments in recorded music as she belts to melodramatic climaxes with pitch-perfect precision and stunning clarity. Basically, she is a modern-day Barbra Streisand without the scary fingers.
Although she has always been the least adventurous among the big three – both vocally and artistically – Dion held her own throughout her career by staying true to the Adult Contemporary/Pop audience that made her a global star. Indeed, while Carey and Houston detoured further into R&B territory during the late 1990s, Dion remained comfortable in her lane, and she happily secured the former fans of the divas who were still seeking conservative ballads about love and heartbreak.
Carey’s catalogue of hits is definitely the most musically diverse when compared to those of Dion and Houston. She has performed Pop, R&B, Jazz, Soul, Gospel, Hip-Pop – a subgenre that she helped to pioneer – Country, Doo-Wop and even Reggae, and I’m sure a Calypso album will be recorded in the near future. However, what is most impressive is that Carey has co-written and co-produced all of her songs with the exception of covers, and is the only member of the top trio who has always been fully involved in the creative process.
Still, the only facet of her artistry with which Carey experiments more than various genres of music is her singing. She has an enormous five octave vocal range and always finds exciting new ways to use it in her songs as an almost frightening vocal chameleon. No wonder Carey’s records are almost impossible to cover by other singers; they just can’t keep up.
Whitney Houston has passed but her legacy lives on. Armed with the most powerful voice of the trio, she inspired her peers with her moving performances. That would was emphasised because unlike the awkwardly stiff Carey and Dion, who always tries too hard to make an impression, Houston was a natural onstage as she sang with poise and conviction.
Despite the troubles of her latter years – drugs, strange public appearances and that Being Bobby Brown reality show – Houston will always be remembered for the better days of her short life. A legend before the age of thirty years, her voice still echoes through the works of the younger acts that she influenced. Plus, “I Will Always Love You” plays at least six times a day on Adult Contemporary radio.