Monday, October 20, 2008

Two Great Voices Fell Silent Forever

Over the past few days, two of my favorite singers passed away.

Dee Dee Warwick... Dionne's sister, who called her "the singer in the family." She may not have had Dionne's perfect command of melodies, but she more than made up for that with extra helpings of passion and soul. She sang the original version of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me", later recorded by the Supremes with the Temptations as well as Gladys Knight and the Pips. And I'm pretty sure that if you give her wonderful recordings a listen, she will indeed make you love her. Dee Dee was only 63 years old but had spent her final months in a nursing home due to bad health.

Levi Stubbs, the unforgettable lead singer of the Four Tops, also passed away. He was 72 and had long been plagued by serious health crisis, including cancer.

Levi is often underestimated as a "shouter" because he is best known for songs like "Reach Out, I'll Be There" and "Standing in the Shadows of Love." But the strength of his voice came with impeccable control and could reveal an unexpected tenderness, as on the Four Tops original recording of "I Believe in You and Me" - a song that requires a humongous vocal range and was later covered by voice acrobats David Peaston and Whitney Houston. But to me, the Four Tops version will always be the ultimate rendition of this beautiful love song, due to the unparalleled Levi Stubbs.

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