American Boy – Meghan Markle and Equal Pay

If you’re going to sing Estelle’s ‘American Boy’, keep Meghan Markle’s wedding veil in your mind.

“… and I said ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if we took the 53 countries of the Commonwealth and embroidered a flower and some flora and fauna from each one of those and that they would go up the aisle, that journey up the aisle with you”

Hundreds of hours, hands washed every 30 minutes to keep the tulle and threads clean, each flower unique and detailed.

Precision in the detail gives freedom to beauty.

And what about Estelle? Listen to the smooth precision in her pronunciation. It takes practice and intention to shape each snappy k, p and t sound quickly, so that they ripple, but never disrupt the flow. The words glide, but each one is clear. The same goes for Kanye West. Precision in the service of sound:

Being a rapper, or a performance poet like Kate Tempest  helps with the tongue gymnastics. You choose your words to sound good and right together, but you also learn to move quickly from one tongue position to another as you speak or sing them

When you sing a smooth song like American Boy, every word and every consonant is important. Respect and shape them all.

American Boy sounds smooth, but it shouldn’t sound like this:

It should sound like this:

With k, p and t sounds sprinkled throughout to give it crunch. There are a lot of k sounds in American Boy. Each one is there for a reason.

Why say it? Because I hear singers pronounce the words American and Boy clearly, but slur the words in between so that the important flicks of k and t get lost in a sludge of nothingness. You need every word if the song is going to make sound sense.

Give your tongue agility and muscle memory by practising the words slowly. Then speed up. The song is built on its sounds. Vowels as much as consonants. The floating ay sounds of Broadway, café, UK, LA, MIA, San Francisco Bay, day, awake sound like hope and dreams. The light ay sounds remind us how warm and soft the oy sound of boy can be. Boy wouldn’t sound as friendly without all the ay sounds placed around it. It’s real painting with sound – each detail builds the picture.

Even Ribena, with its warm, round sounds and its three neat syllables fits the song better than any other drink would. And, as a childhood drink, is wittier to put in Kanye’s mouth:

And what does Estelle think about Meghan Markle and her veil? You’ll hear her talking about the importance of it about 16 minutes in here. Watch the whole video and you’ll see Estelle talk about Black Women Equal Pay Day :

If you want to sing American Boy without a Kanye, Ray BLK shows you how:

©SingBetterEnglish 2018


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