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Taken from West Virginia Public Broadcasting (May 13, 2015)
and Vocal Chords (Dec 26, 2014)

Peter Gabriel: Singing Lessons

Iarla Ó Lionáird in conversation with Peter Gabriel

by Jim Lange

The man with the golden pipes, Peter Gabriel / Wikicommons

"Technically, I think I'm a crap singer. I don't have the chops, but I know that I can move people and I can touch them. That interests me more."

The proliferation of singing talent shows on American TV all suggest that prodigious vocal technique, along with the singing of as many notes (plus ornamentations) is the pinnacle of musical expression.


More is not better. Quality is not defined by quantity.

The singer's art, as I see it, is to directly connect us to music; to reveal through music our common humanity. To put it more bluntly, to knock our socks off.

What is it about Peter Gabriel's voice that moves me so?

If I were to stand back and use my musical analytical training, the description would not be kind: frequently out-of-tune, raspy, often reaching for notes beyond comfortable range, a lack of vibrato and often sounding tired and a bit froggy.

There is no one's voice that moves me as much. I can't explain it, so don't ask. There are much better singers in the world, but for my taste, Gabriel is the one.

Iarla Ó Lionáird & Michael Gallen have posted a wonderful (and unedited) interview with Gabriel with the focus on singing.

The interview (content of the page) is included here:

As part of Vocal Chords Iarla visited the home of world renowned singer Peter Gabriel to talk to him about the voice and what singing means in his life. They share a wide ranging discussion about the voice and singing. He talks about his journey as a singer and what performance, song and singing means to him and Gabriel shares his favourite music, from the Beatles’ ‘Love me do’ and songs of the “Pakistani Pavarotti”, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to his key musical influences including Otis Redding and Nina Simone. The Vocal Chords Special – In Conversation with Peter Gabriel broadcast on RTÉ lyric fm, on the 26th of December 2014, as a special and marked the beginning of the Vocal Chords journey which will continue the next year with the series beginning on May 1st 2015. You can hear the show via the RTÉ catch up player here.

“I think everyone, musical or not, should learn to sing and find out about their voice…..I think it’s an understanding of interpretation, as well as delivering melody.” – Peter Gabriel

In this exclusive preview of the programme Gabriel describes his relationship to poetry and lyric writing around the song Mercy Street and the poet Anne Sexton.

Below is the full interview by Iarla Ó Lionáird & Michael Gallen with Peter Gabriel.


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