I grew up among wonderful women, so the voice in my ear – the voice of wisdom, of joy, of sorrow, was always a feminine one. The voice on the television and the radio was mostly a masculine one. The measured sombre tones indicated something serious that we had to pay attention to. I can remember a teacher of mine (male) telling me that he would not be able to take the news seriously if a woman were to read the news. Shortly afterwards Angela Rippon read the news on national TV in 1975. She even went on to wow us all with her dance routines – a woman after my own heart.
I have a fairly light voice and a distinct South London accent – I didn’t grow up thinking I had a wonderful voice. With one or two noticeable exceptions, the men in my life have always told me I talked too much, too fast, too loudly and with an unpleasant tone. The few times I heard myself on radio or tape, I sounded like a breathless seven year old (at least to me) and I felt I lacked gravitas and the appropriate tone. To me, the ideal feminine voice was the soft spoken low voiced Ann Nightingale
Lately I have realised that the feminine voice is a lighter voice and it is no good me trying to lower my voice and sound like a man. Maggie Thatcher did it with mixed results and it is not somewhere I want to be. I am Woman – Hear me Roar. I am not man (?hear me grumble?).
This year I have had the privilege of exploring women’s voices in a variety of ways. Singing in a community choir (Sisters of Soul), and recording a single with a ’flash’ choir Sisters Roar, has taught me that women have a variety of voices and that one way to be heard is for us to combine together. Our choir is made up of women with a range of voices – we do not sing the same notes, but we do sing the same song, at the same time in harmony with each other. We don’t have to have perfect voices to get ourselves heard.
Lately I have been spending some time on local and women’s radio stations. I found some fascinating women with fascinating things to say. I also found out I really am noisy! The voice of the world in my head is no longer male but female with its full range of tones. What is the tone in your head?
Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon a specialist employment law consultancy. She recently gave a radio interview which included her favourite music. She joined Sisters Roar to record I am Woman in aid of three women’s charities is a member of Sisters of Soul will be singing at St Brides Church near Fleet Street in aid of charity (February 2012).