Gregory Porter's Popular Voices

Showstoppers

Series 1 - Episode 1 Showstoppers

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Review

Here comes Grammy Award-winning soul/jazz singer Gregory Porter and his hat to tell us how showstopping vocal performances have gone from the powerful tenor of Enrico Caruso to teenagers warbling on The X Factor. It’s a bit of a dash from Caruso, through Mahalia Jackson’s raw energy, Ella Fitzgerald’s virtuosity, Freddie Mercury’s “laser beam voice” and Prince’s falsetto, to the melisma of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey (warbling multiple notes on one syllable), but Porter is an affable host delighting in his subject — especially when he gets to record a “duet” with Ella Fitzgerald. But the final say on vocal gymnastics goes to Clarke Peters: "What's the word? Melismatic? Ridiculous!"

Summary

The Grammy award-winning soul and jazz star examines the sound and work of his favourite vocal showstoppers, starting with the world's first pop star, the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. He moves on to admire the genius of Ella Fitzgerald, the soul of Mahalia Jackson, the power and stagecraft of Freddie Mercury, the artistry and extravagance of Prince, and the modern melisma of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Contributors include Dave Grohl, Beck, Adam Lambert, George Benson, Stephen Costello, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Gregory Porter
Contributor Dave Grohl
Contributor Beck
Contributor Adam Lambert
Contributor George Benson
Contributor Stephen Costello
Contributor Wendy Melvoin
Contributor Lisa Coleman
Director John Williams
Executive Producer Mark Cooper
Producer John Williams
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Documentary