Frankie Laine: A Diversity of Voice

Best of the Best

I love Frank Sinatra. His voice could be mellow and sad, jam-packed with feeling and emotional, spot-on delivery, or upbeat and swinging. Listening to his recordings is tantamount to hearing the epitome of musical class.

What can I say about Nat Cole? He was such a wonderful talent taken from us before his time. He rivaled the greatest of the jazz pianists, and his vocals were pure gold. His unique voice and perfect delivery inspired and entertained millions with some of the best music of the 20th century.

The great Mario Lanza brought operatic singing into popular music. His voice was powerful, dramatic, and beautiful. I still get chills whenever I listen to his recordings.

The wonderful “Lady Day”—Billie Holiday is one of my favorite singers. She had a style that was hers alone. Nobody resonated the blues—sadness and all, like she did.

I adore Bing Crosby, Billy Eckstine, Patti Page, Ella Fitzgerald, and all of the other popular singers from that generation. Without their contributions, 20th century music would not have been the superb generation of popular music that it is.

A Voice Diversified

Each of my favorite singers had a distinct style and sang the very best compositions with both genuineness and refinement.

Let’s make a quick study of Frankie Laine. Frankie Laine was not only a great singer, singing with class, feeling, and gusto, but Frankie could also sidestep the vocal boundaries and successfully sing different varieties of music. The results were triumphant! Other singers were not as successful as Frankie in this achievement.

Frankie sang songs like “Granada” with as much style and panache as Mario Lanza delivered. Frankie could then sing a Western song like “City Boy” or “Bowie Knife” that made each listener believe that a cowboy was singing these tunes. Frankie was able to make his singing voice believable, skillfully and perfectly paring it with the song type.

As much as I love Nat Cole and Frank Sinatra, I have pictured in my mind how they would have sounded singing such Laine songs as “The Tarrier Song” and “Rocks and Gravel.” But Frankie beautifully sang songs such as “I Get Along Without You Very Well” or “One for My Baby.”

In my opinion, this vocal variance is what has always set Frankie Laine apart from other singers. He had the uncanny and unprecedented ability to sing several types of songs within different genres with believability, class, style, and feeling. To collect Frankie Laine recordings is to collect many different types of popular music. Other singers sang either fast songs or slow songs. Frankie went beyond this. He was the master of singing several styles. He was the master of singing with feeling and emotion. He was a master entertainer!

May the memory of this master live forever!

 

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About the Author:

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Craig Cronbaugh, Director of the Legislative Information Office with the Legislative Services Agency at the Iowa State Capitol. As famed singer Frankie Laine’s special friend and a collector of Laine’s recordings and career memorabilia, Craig has written articles; has written, produced, directed, and hosted a distinctive radio program; and has appeared on Iowa statewide television regarding his Frankie Laine avocation. Craig has been highlighted briefly and has been given a research screen credit in the 2003 internationally distributed documentary Frankie Laine: An American Dreamer. Craig’s book, a memoir, Reaching for a Star, featuring his friendship with Laine, was published in 2005.