All well-produced human voices have a degree of quaver known as vibrato. Some are given a wide, cello-like vibrato, others a mere wiggle; but most singers agree that there is a natural vibrato which is sometimes discovered at an early age, occasionally in midlife (like my own), and which increases with age. Gossipy sopranos might describe the wobble in an aging peer: "she's got a tremolo you could drive a truck through!"
Fashions and styles ask for varying degrees of vibrato. Folk prefers a tight little tremble, suitable for urgency of lyric and clarity of text. Grand opera, which needs huge, free voices to fill auditoriums, asks for large vibrato, as does the inner-city Gospel choir with Mahalia Jackson its role model. Big Band era singers started with a straight tone and let it open up into a vibrato, like a Leslie B-3 when you turn the juice on the rotor. St. Olaf's in Minnesota demands a crystal-clear, vibrato-free sound to emulate the famous boys' choirs of Lutheran history, and let the lines of polyphony be heard distinctly. Each requires both a certain native vibrato, and/or the willingness of a singer to alter their vibrato, or be forbidden to participate.
It seems, in my limited "neck of the woods", that the free vibrato has become anathema to the contemporary music world, somehow having become associated with "old things" and (shudder) "old people." I am a bit tired of hearing of singers with vibrato being turned out of the worship team or being put on a list of acceptable leaders for Wednesday Night adult Bible Study (you don't want to expose young people to vibrato -- they'll surely leave the church).
I'm looking for input from a wider variety of churches than those in my neighborhood. Do you allow people with vibrato (I mean a good vib w/o wobble, and good pitch) to lead worship or sing on the team? Have you encountered marginalization on account of vibrato, either presence or lack of? Or do people just like what they like, and that is all there is to it?
Revisiting the archives today. Last post in this thread appears to be from 2010.
"All well produced voices"
Ay, there's the rub. Having sung with the congregation since childhood, and having listened to hundreds and thousands of "well produced voices" and heard time and again how vibrato is a naturally produced phenomenon when singing is done correctly, I am no closer to producing it than I was when I was 8, singing in the junior choir. Perhaps that traumatic experience in the fourth grade being compelled by classroom authority to stand before my peers and inform Aunt Rhody of the untimely end of her favorite old goose had a detrimental effect. Whatever the cause, I can produce a straight tone with about a two octave range, or a straight tone howl above, or a straight tone growl below. This has limited my opportunities to lead, as one might imagine. So unless instrumental leading is offered, I shall be part of the band, playing with my mouth firmly closed, or part of the congregation, belting out hymns and songs in my growly straight voice.