Thursday 14 April 2011

I Can't Hear Clearly Now

A friend commented on my recent post that linked to Tracy Chapman, saying that she thought the singer was a man. She had never heard of Tracy Chapman, and on first listen thought it was a man singing the song.

This is an interesting peculiar phenomenon. It is similar to how the same song can mean different things to different people in different situations and in different times (as mentioned here). Just different perceptions.

This time it is about perceptions of the singing voice without any reference to visual cues. I experienced this interesting peculiar phenomenon when I first heard the excellent song I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash on the radio. I thought it was a female singer. In fact, IMHO the song I Can See Clearly Now sounds like it should fittingly be sung with a female voice.

Just click on the YouTube video below and close your eyes. Is Johnny Nash's voice feminine?

However, the funny thing is I (a man) do not perceive Tracy Chapman to have a male voice, and my friend (a woman) does not perceive Johnny Nash to have a female voice (and vice-versa ... if you get my drift!). Perhaps some people are biased toward perceiving male-sounding voices, and others toward female-sounding voices, while others have perfect hearing and can distinguish the sex of singers??

So, does anyone else perceive:
1) Tracy Chapman to have a male-sounding voice?
2) Johnny Nash to have a female-sounding voice?

Are there any other examples of this "sex-perception interesting peculiar phenomenon"?

I would appreciate it if anyone can comment or even have a theory to explain this interesting peculiar phenomenon.


  1. hmm. nice classical voice feminine of Johnny. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. What an interesting way to promote a feminization voice study course for transgender women!

    My post's question remains: Is Johnny Nash's voice feminine?