For the weekly #askYES feature over the next 5 weeks, the current touring members of YES choose tracks they find inspiring and hope will be an inspiration for people learning their chosen instruments.

First up is Jon Davison’s Vocal Inspirations:

You can also listen to this playlist on Spotify or watch and listen on YouTube.

These songs of vocal inspiration are not in any particular order of preference.
– Jon.

Ella Fitzgerald singing Duke Ellington’s, It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
“Lady Ella” was a true master of voice. Her flawless technique allowed her incredible accuracy and grace as a singer.

Hide And Seek by Imogen Heap
Though strange, this song is inspiring to me for how completely innovative and moving it is.

Love Reign O’er Me – The Who
A raw, gut wrenching delivery depicting the angst and agony of the human condition.

The Great Gig In The Sky by Pink Floyd
The exact same from above can be applied to this classic masterpiece.

Take Five by Al Jarreau
100% unique style and expression. A reminder that there is no limit to the creativity of the human spirit.

Eric Whitacre’s choral masterpiece When David Heard
A powerhouse of deep feeling – expressing both beauty and sadness. I’m certain that rarely before has so much been said with so few words.

Because – The Beatles
Melodically and mathematically perfect in a classical-music-like sense. Healing medicine for a confused mind and troubled heart.
NB – The Beatles are not on Spotify – you can listen to ‘Because’ on iTunes here.

Our Prayer – The Beach Boys
Another melodic and mathematically perfect piece. A mere sample of the pure and inspired genius of Brian Wilson.

Tuvan Throat Singing (Khoomei)
Rather than offering only one song as an example, I’m referring to the overall style. Inspiring because of how remarkable and utterly different it is from anything I’ve ever accomplished as a singer. There are a couple of great Tuvan YouTube videos to watch here and here.

The Prophet’s Song – Queen
Imo, Queen was the best at lush studio vocal harmonies. This progressive gem also offers a stunning, mostly acappella section from Mr. Mercury that is truly innovative and ingenious.

Living For The City – Stevie Wonder
This is only one example of how passionate and expressive Stevie is. When I hear him sing, I sense that I’m witnessing a pure, unobstructed channel of God’s beauty. He is a light in this world.

Dead Can Dance – The Host Of Seraphim
The record label 4AD produced two divas, both claiming to have sung in their own language, Lisa Gerard from Dead Can Dance and Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins. This piece of music which features Lisa Gerard is definitely bone chilling yet powerfully beautiful.

Tom Waits – Step Right Up
I consider humour a necessary emotion upon which I thrive. This sassy little ditty always puts a silly smile on my face.

Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon And Garfunkel
To me, this song has the perfect blend of touching lyric and moving melody that stirs my heart ever time I hear it.

Ethel Merman sings Everything’s Coming Up Roses!
I confess that in some odd way this Broadway hit has inspired me. I also confess that I do a mean Ethel impersonation that is guaranteed to cause Mr. Squire to burst his sides on the spot!

I could go on and on, but I better quit at 15. To think that I haven’t touched on the likes of Jon Anderson, Peter Gabriel, Björk, Bono, Jeff Buckley… there’s simply no end to the inspiration!

Thank you all for letting me share further vocal inspiration with you.
Much love,

Photo of Jon Davison ©2102 Jerry and Lois Photography.


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