VocalID: give your voice to the voiceless

If you’re in the VO game, and want to really put your talent to good use, consider helping out via VocalID. You can donate your voice and help those who cannot speak and rely on technology to communicate. Here is an overview that I wrote for my day job at The Drum. And here’s how you can get started...

Rashida Jones: The Perfect Voice For Southwest

Sometimes the planets align and the perfect voice is matched with a brand. Such is the case with Rashida Jones and Southwest Airlines. Jones, formerly of Parks and Recreation and currently in Angie Tribeca ticks every box that a creative director and brand like this are looking (and listening) for: youthful, easy to listen to, natural, conversational. As voice talent, we see direction like this for auditions all the time — and it’s not always easy to hit those marks. Jones doesn’t bombard the brand, she absolutely enhances, gives it life and a fresh feel. This is part of the brand refresh for the airline that took launched in 2014. I’d be curious to know else was auditioning for this brand voice — but it’s safe to say that Southwest and the agency, GSD&M, hit an absolute home run with this...

My Favorite Bowie Moment

The tributes are rolling in — both from famous folks and people more like, er, you know, you and me. The outpouring of grief and celebration is interesting, because there wasn’t just one defining “moment” with David Bowie. In fact, that’s what likely makes David Bowie so unique. Art is up for interpretation and it is highly subjective. Music is like that. Bowie, however, was on a completely different plane and planet. Michael Jackson had “Thriller.” Madonna had “Like A Virgin.” But Bowie had, well, everything. Bowie’s “hits” are one thing, but the body of work was so consistently good and interesting, that there was never a true “moment” but a continuum that is something otherworldly. That said, I do have a favorite Bowie moment. When music (or art, for that matter) makes me stop everything that I’m doing and demands my full focus, then I would count that as a moment. I felt that way at one of Outkast’s last shows. Same thing at LCD Soundsystem’s swan song. In 1985, in a huge stadium in Philadelphia, my world stood still as David Bowie came on stage (via video uplink — I think that’s what it was called back then) in London to sing “Heroes.” I remember it like it was yesterday and it will still have the same impact on me forever: chills. There’s really nothing else to say — there’s only this “moment” to enjoy for now, and countless others for eternity....

Harry Shearer And The Simpsons: Recasting A Voiceover Legend

Twitter is all aflutter today over the news that Harry Shearer, the voice of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Waylon Smithers and Principal Skinner (among many other) has decided to part ways with The Simpsons after what can only be called one of the more glorious runs of voiceover and voice acting in history (with the possible exception of his The Simpsons contemporaries). This has not been the prettiest of breakups. The show’s executive producer, James L. Brooks, has noted that these characters will not be killed off or eliminated in any way. This is a pretty high-profile kerfuffle and there is rampant speculation that the person (or people) who will take over these roles will not be quite as good. Having been deep in this kind of work, on both sides of the mic, for about 20 years myself, I can tell you that it’s both true and not true at the same time. It’s true because Shearer is masterful. He is a technician who not only delivers the lines, but gets the right amount of gravitas and nuance to breathe substantial life and purity into the characters he has helped create over the years. It’s also true in that it’s hard to replace such beloved characters and having a level of “imitation” can sound, well, a little off — that’s also to do with the nuance thing. It’s not true because there are plenty of very talented voice actors who could likely mimic what’s been done with these characters. To wit, I worked with a guy in radio who could pretty much nail about 10 of The Simpsons...

So You Want To Do VO?

Here’s one I stumbled upon from a report in LA in 2008. Some of the tops in the biz. Note the wrap-up, specifically the “luck” part. Yeah, that’s part of it. May have been a slow news day, but inspiring to see for those of us in the...