Would it be Grace Kelly? Audrey Hepburn? Ingrid Bergman? Cate Blanchett? Helena Bonham Carter? I tend to forget actresses’ and actors’ names unless I see them in five or more films, so even though I’ve seen plenty from Hollywood’s Golden Era and thus vaguely remember a lot of intriguing and intelligent sounding ladies, I’m really not the best person to ask.

We’re talking about speech, not song.  Diction, elocution, style, and timbre in the way a woman talks. I don’t even want to know about the mere talk of the likes of Billie Holiday, Joan Baez, or Maria Callas, okay?

Should we mention political leaders? Margaret Thatcher? There was an article last year about how she worked hard on her elocution, and thus deliberately made her pitch a bit lower. Angela Merkel’s voice sounds pleasant and intelligent to me, but without German, I’m a hopeless judge of the overall impression it gives.

Radio or audio-book voices?  NPR’s Terry Gross would surely be a contender… …and for some reason that makes me think of Lou Reed’s widow, performance artist Laurie Anderson.

Well, whatever list we might draw up, it sure won’t include New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand, caught here lamely trying to deflect attention from Obama’s “you can keep it” lie.

A horrifying voice—cloying yet charmless, tuneless, rhythmnless, pushy, overly-chirpy, and inappropriately junior high.  And yet what’s most horrifying is that I think I’m hearing more of this sort of voice from younger women these days, and that I fear the likes of Gillibrand is some sort of role model to not a few of them.

Still, if this clip conveys what she’s normally like, she’s truly in a class by herself.

Articles by Carl Scott

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