Unique Voices With Deb Eleanor

Eleanor BrownIf you’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting me in person, you know that I am LOUD and I talk quickly. I grew up singing and acting, and I do mean Russian and Minnesotan accents.

Maybe because I was so involved in theater, or because I grew up in a musical family, or because my parents (who are both awesome readers) read aloud to me so much when I was little, I’ve always been fascinated by voices and the way people speak. Not just the actual timbre of their voice, but their style and accent and pacing.

There are a handful of actors, for instance, who we think of when we think of voice – James Earl Jones, Christopher Walken, William Shatner, Kathleen Turner. (By the way, if you want to make me happy, tell me I sound like Kathleen Turner – that’s my favorite compliment!) And they don’t have to be pretty voices, either; think of how memorable Fran Drescher and Victoria Jackson and Gilbert Gottfried and Nicolas Cage’s voices are.

It’s the same with music – Josh Groban’s voice is gorgeous, but Bruce Springsteen’s is not, and yet there’s something to the rough power of his voice that’s enjoyable to listen to.

I was really lucky to have Kirsten Potter read the audiobook version of The Weird Sisters, because I have listened to audiobooks where the narrator’s annoying voice (both sound and delivery) have really ruined it for me, and others where the reader absolutely made it wonderful. In fact, I didn’t really understand or fall in love with Jane Austen until I got Pride and Prejudice in audiobook form and the reader did such a wonderful job of bringing the humor out.

Whose (or what kind of) voices are your favorite and least favorite?

46 Replies to “Unique Voices With Deb Eleanor”

  1. I think you and I would get along. I consider my laugh loud and obnoxious, but everyone tells me to not change.
    I can’t stand to hear Fran Drescher nor the attorney Cheney Mason.

    1. I don’t know who Cheney Mason is, but I’m not Googling after that recommendation!

      I love nothing more than loud and obnoxious laughs – they mean happiness! Don’t change.

  2. I could listen to Sean Connery read the phone book. Russell Crowe’s voice does it for me, too. (Not so much him. Just his voice.) For women, I agree about Kathleen Turner–her voice is smokin’. I also like Judi Dench — she drips authority with every word. Love that.

    1. Oh, Sean Connery, he’s another immediately recognizable one!

      And I love Judi Dench in all kinds of ways. What was that movie she did with Maggie Smith? The Lavender Sisters or something? Loved it!

  3. I love Maggie Smith’s voice, especially as she has gotten older–it’s throaty and craggy and dripping with wit. In terms of male voices, David Sedaris instantly elevates my mood and makes me laugh. I love all his books and they are even funnier when you listen to him read them.

    1. Haha – that’s so funny, I just mentioned Maggie Smith above when Linda mentioned Judi Dench!

      Oh, and David Sedaris – I totally agree and feel the same way about Sarah Vowell. They’re funny in print, but much better when you listen to them!

  4. Totally with you on Kathleen Turner.

    What I always love is meeting VO or puppet people, and hearing how easily they meld into completely different voices. Caroll Spinney pretty much sounds like Big Bird all the time, but then suddenly he’s Oscar the Grouch and it’s shocking. I recently had a perfectly normal conversation with one man, until I found out he was the voice of Goofy. The rest of the conversation was held in character, much to my delight.

    1. That’s hilarious!

      I remember hearing the man who voiced Elmo on something – maybe Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me on NPR? – and hearing him switch back and forth was disturbing – he did it so quickly!

    1. You mentioned this earlier and I said I’d never heard her? Irony of ironies, I’m in a doctor’s waiting room this afternoon, and what’s on the TV there? RACHEL RAY!

      Her voice didn’t bother me, but I can see how it would bother other people – kind of raspy.

  5. My voice is just okay, although rather like coaxing a shy woodland creature to accept an acorn, I had to get my second British Husband used to the natural volume of an American speaker. (I did it by reading aloud to him, as it happens.)

    And his voice is perfectly fine, nothing special other than the accent of course. But my first British Husband (so? I have a type) would sound like Jeremy Irons when he had a cold. Specifically, Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune. Used to drive me wild with lust — which is very inconvenient when the object of that lust has a cold.

    When I have a cold, I sound like Mercedes McCambridge in The Exorcist. So not fair.

    1. Do you mind if I bronze this comment?

      I will admit to having dated a handful of British men in my time, not exclusively for the accent, but it certainly does make everything sound that much nicer, doesn’t it?

    1. Yeah, her voice isn’t super-pleasant to listen to, though now that I think about it, that combination of nasal and New York makes for a lot of comedians, doesn’t it?

    1. Stephen Frye is hilarious, but I’ve never really thought about his voice. Oh, and Irish accents are lovely, aren’t they? I think I really fell in love with Maeve Binchy because the first book I read of hers was in audio and the narrator was so lovely!

  6. Fascinating. Voices reading audiobooks is something I’ve never considered. Of course the reason may be that listening to one simply puts me to sleep. Yes, I’m WAAAY too visual!

    P.S. Why didn’t anyone tell that The Weird Sisters make an appearance in Harry Potter?! 😉

    1. I’ve had badly read audiobooks nearly put me to sleep – once when I was driving, even!

      Isn’t that hilarious? Before I learned my lesson, I had Google alerts set up, and I was always getting Harry Potter results.

  7. Patricia Clarkson, hands down, has the loveliest voice I’ve ever heard. They make butter from her voice. RE: Nicolas Cage. I see what you’re saying, though I believe Valley Girl is the exception. He should have stopped there in his film making. But maybe that’s bc the rest of cast’s voices are freaking grating.

    And you TOTALLY sound like Kathleen Turner. Totally.

    1. Oh, Patricia Clarkson does have a great voice! I’d never have thought of her, but she really does.

      Also, you are officially the best friend in the world. I am either going to marry you or make you a milk-free chocolate cream pie. Because that’s how much I love you.

  8. Love Kathleen Turner and you do sound like her( ok, so I have only heard your voice on the radio). Those lovely British men could talk all day and I would be a happy camper.. Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig, Kenneth Branagh…

    1. Everyone sounds good on the radio…

      You really do love those Brits! I would listen to Colin Firth all day long. Actually, I wouldn’t hear a damn thing he was saying, but I’d put on a good show while I pictured him shirtless.

  9. Totally love the Brits, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth both so distinct and I loved the Governator, Arnold himself, when he was younger.
    Don’t really care for New Yawk, New Jersey accents (sorry guys)

    1. I don’t know that anyone has a fetish for NY/NJ accents, do they? Oh, I shouldn’t have said that – someone, somewhere does, and they’ve got a website for it, I’m sure!

      Hugh Grant is totally recognizable! I love his narration in Love, Actually. Weep every time.

  10. Hugh Jackman is another good one!
    As far as bad voices… I TOTALLY agree with Nicholas Cage! David Spade’s voice really bugs me too! He is so weasly sounding!

    1. It’s funny, I just mentioned above that Joy Behar’s combo of tone and accent are one common in comedians – I wonder if David Spade cultivates his voice to be funny?

      I’ll pay attention to Hugh Jackman next time he’s on the screen. Isn’t he Australian? That accent does me in.

  11. Can’t you hear her? “In the GREAT – GREEEE — ROOOOOOM!” She’d be perfect to read Go the F to Sleep. Although Samuel L. Jackson has done a fine job with the audio. There’s another voice I love.

    1. Oh, she would be perfect!

      I read an article a while back about how a woman would have gotten hell for writing that book, though, and I’m guessing an audiobook reader would have had the same problem. I love that SLJ agreed to do it!

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