Doris Day, the girl next door, the animal lover, the multi-talented blonde American beauty, singer, actress, TV host; you wouldn’t mind your father running off with her.
How I love the way she comforts us with her light coloured voice in Que Sera – sera, or Day by Day. (Only jealous ever so slightly…that name is soooo handy for album titles. What on earth can I do with Huizinga…)
She always manages to put a smile on my face, it’s so utterly charming and entrancing what she does. And you know what, this legend is still with us today!! She lives in sunny California, in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Let’s all hop on a flight, right now!
Born in Cincinnati in the twenties as Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, she loved to dance. A car accident in 1937 made her give up on her dreams to be a dancer. While recovering in hospital, Doris started to sing along with the radio and discovered a talent she did not know she had. While singing along to Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller, she became fascinated by one radio voice above all others; the one that belonged to Ella Fitzgerald. “I’d try to catch the subtle ways she shaded her voice.”
Quite recognizable to us singers, right? When you really dig someone’s style, you tend to copy every detail. Every little alteration, every sigh, every phrase. Of course, imitation is the first learning principle. I believe this is a good thing and there’s absolutely no harm in that. (The only thing is; your sources have to be great sources…)
The challenge is, if you only copy one singer, you will sell yourself short. You don’t want to be that singer known for her or his great impersonations, do you? (Or maybe you do…)
So, here’s my tip for you: listen to as many singers and instrumentalists as possible to get an ear for what you like. Copy and paste to your liking. (I can just hear you thinking: “No, really?” Yes, really.) It will all get mixed up in your head anyway, but the fun part is, it will be YOUR mixed up version. We all take inspiration from each other. Ella even said: “I stole everything I heard.”
Now let it simmer for a while. Then do something completely different; don’t sing at all. Be quiet. Scrub the floors, declutter your closets, call your mother.
After a while, your personal style will emerge. Just like that. It may take some years, or maybe even a lifetime, that’s all. But that only makes life more interesting, doesn’t it?
See you on stage!
With love, Ilse Huizinga
My album tip:
Doris Day by Night (Hallmark Records, 1957)
Doris Day on Wikipedia: