What would you do if you woke up one morning without the ability to speak? Somehow, your voice vanished in the middle of the night. Not as if you were sick and became hoarse but you had no voice whatsoever; you opened your mouth and literally no sound came out. You tried to alert loved ones or friends of your sudden muteness but again-you were unable to speak. What would you do? Literally and figuratively, the human voice is one of the most powerful tools that we possess. An extremely high pitched voice can shatter a glass window, while an extremely low pitched voice can cause a physical vibration that can be felt by all who are near. One of the most interesting things about the human voice is it’s uniqueness. A person’s voice, in most cases, tends to be an indication of their personality. For instance, someone who is reserved and shy, will typically have a soft quiet voice. While someone who is extroverted and outgoing tends to have a louder voice. Each voice on this list has it’s own unique qualities, making them easily recognizable at the sound of the first word they speak.
10. John Corbett
You may recognize his handsome face from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding or hit television show Sex and the City. You may recognize his upbeat and inviting voice from Applebee’s commercials, urging you to come in and try their new Sizzling platters. Or the Walgreen’s commercials informing you that your local Walgreen’s can be found on the corner of happy and healthy. Corbett‘s sound is reminiscent of that of a friendly neighbor who would hold the door for you as you carry in groceries.
9. Robin Williams
With more than a dozen voice overs under his belt, Robin captivates audiences with his highly energetic sound. He brings characters-and sometimes even inanimate objects i.e., Flubber) to life. Williams‘ is revered as a comedic genius by his peers. His ability to imitate any voice from an extremely high childlike pitch to a low resonating masculine tone is nothing short of amazing. He is also remarkable at imitating accents which was showcased in his 1993 family film Mrs. Doubtfire. Although mainly known for his comedic works, Williams’ has proved that he is not to be type cast. His chilling roles in One Hour Photo and Insomnia show that his vocal hilarity can also be translated into much more sinister roles when necessary.
8. Michel’le Toussaint
This R&B diva’s speaking voice is quite perplexing as it is the polar opposite of her singing voice. In her hit 1989 ballad, Something In My Heart, the singer’s sultry soprano sound could be compared to greats like Patti LaBelle or Natalie Cole. However, her speaking voice is like that of a cartoon character who just inhaled a few tanks of helium. For years, rumors have said that she does not naturally speak in the high pitched tone but that her painfully squeaky voice is simply an act. Other rumors have said that she has a medical condition that has adversely affected her vocal chords. Shooting down rumors of medical conditions and her voice being fake, Toussaint says that she did not speak for the first four years of her life; she simply nodded yes or no when asked something. Perhaps she did not speak because she was annoyed with the sound of her own voice. She has admitted to having surgery to fix her broken nose on two separate occasions-maybe that has something to do with. Pinch your nose right now and say something. See what I mean?
7. The Kardashian Sisters
Kourtney, Khloe & Kim have definitely capitalized off of their hit reality television show. They have a clothing line, cosmetic lines and of course fragrances. In addition to their impeccable style and ravenous beauty, the sisters are known for their distinctively nasal-y speaking voices. Oddly enough, the quirky sisters have created some notoriety for an otherwise virtually obscure phenomenon in speech patterns. Vocal fry, most notably heard in “the Valley Girl accent,” is defined as a low vibratory sound that occurs in someone’s speaking voice, usually at the end of a sentence. Speech scientists say that fry is the lowest vocal register that a person can sing or speak in. This sound can best be described as a popping and rattling that happens when air passes between vocal chords, which causes them to vibrate abnormally. Research also says that this is a trend popular among teen girls and women of higher social groups, possibly in an attempt to sound more authoritative. This lower register, although the norm at high schools and country clubs across the nation, is actually harmful for your vocal chords. “Like, oh my gosh! Lets all totally ruin our voices!”
6. Keith David
Keith David‘s voice can be heard on countless video games, cartoons and documentaries including popular animated series Spawn and historical documentary The Bible. His subtle yet deep and perfectly modulated voice serves as a great accompaniment to characters in high power and villains. David’s film career started in 1979 and has included both television and film acting roles in addition to voice overs in the aforementioned categories. Keith David is also a singer and has performed with numerous choirs and bands throughout his career. Surprisingly, his singing voice is somewhat reminiscent of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.
5. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest people in the world. She also has one of the most recognizable voices in the world. Her warm and articulated pattern of speech serves as the perfect backdrop for gut wrenching interviews and heartfelt stories of triumph. During her many years as a journalist, talk show host, philanthropist and mogul, Oprah has been a voice for many who otherwise went unheard. Whether she is interviewing recent Oscar winners about their work in a film or talking to an ordinary person who accomplished something extraordinary, Oprah’s sound has a comforting yet pensive quality that is uniquely her own. Oprah has also done voice overs for a few animated movies: Charlotte’s Web (2006), Bee Movie (2007) and The Princess and the Frog (2009).
4. Dennis Haysbert (The All State Guy)
With his penetrating baritone, Dennis Haysbert has people across the nation wondering if they are in good hands. He started out as a struggling actor in 1979. Before he was the All State guy, he was in over a dozen movies including Heat (1995), Love & Basketball (2000) and Jarhead (2005). In recent years he has also done some work on popular television shows such as 24 (2001-2006) and The Unit (2006-2009). During an interview about a recent movie, Haysbert was asked if he was able to order a pizza over the phone without being recognized. To no one’s surprise, he answered “no.” Now there’s a question for the pizza delivery guy: “Is my food in good hands?”
3. Christopher Walken
Smoother than smooth and cooler than cool, Christopher Walken‘s velvet-y New York accent and honeyed vocal tone has made him one of the most imitated voices in Hollywood. His stoic nature seems in stark contrast to his dynamic portrayals of some of the most remarkable characters in cinematic history. He’s also gained attention for his comedic talents, namely his performance on Saturday Night Live in 2000. He, along with Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz imitated the 1970’s band, The Blue Oyster Cult as they were recording their hit song (Don’t Fear) The Reaper. Christopher Walken played the group’s producer, Bruce Dickinson, who kept insisting that the song needed more cowbell. Perhaps the most popular line from the skit being, “I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell”
2. Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman‘s voice seems to have a soothing yet booming quality to it. Referred to as “The Voice of God” after his role in Bruce Almighty,” Freeman has starred in numerous films in which his signature voice adds unparalleled depth to the characters in which he plays. In an interview about a movie he narrates, Dolphin Tale (2011), Freeman says that the secret to improving the sound quality of your voice is frequent yawning. According to him, frequent yawning relaxes the vocal chords. When your vocal chords are relaxed, your voice tends to drop and in his opinion, “…the lower your voice the better you sound. Does that mean he yawns a lot? And how does one yawn on command? I guess you possess that kind of ability when you play the voice of God!
1. James Earl Jones
Topping the list as possibly the single most recognizable voice in Hollywood is none other than this guy, the three named wonder himself. He has provided the bold mystique behind historic characters like Darth Vader in Star Wars and Mufasa in The Lion King. James Earl Jones‘ voice is synonymous with authority and commands attention and respect with the sound of one word. His booming bass laden voice has taken on a life of it’s own, sometimes proving to be more famous than he as a person. Jones tells Time Magazine that he had a debilitating stutter when he was a young boy. After a concerning school teacher worked with him and made him read aloud in front of his class, Jones’ stutter started to fade. It’s hard to believe that the man who became famous for five simple words (Luke, I am your father) once struggled to speak confidently.