Do you have an audition coming up? Selecting the right song to show off your abilities is key. Here, Hayward, CA teacher Molly R. shares her top picks for audition songs for altos…
Altos are just fabulous! Your easy low notes and rich tone make so many great types of music suitable to you: jazz, pop, classical, and so on. So, what do you pick as an audition piece to best show off that special voice type of yours? Here are a few suggestions in various genres that may suit you!
“Stormy Weather” — here’s a classic torch song with lots of emotion and a truly gorgeous vocal line, making it the perfect audition song for an alto interested in jazz. It was written by Harold Arlen, who composed the music for “Wizard of Oz”. There are many fantastic renditions out there, but Lena Horne’s is one of the best:
“River of No Return” – this is a song from the Marilyn Monroe movie of the same name. This is a lovely song that is rarely performed because it sits very, VERY low — perfect for true alto voices!
“Constant Craving” — who doesn’t love this song? It’s an interesting hybrid of jazz and pop. k.d. lang’s flawless performance definitely inspires. This song can go anywhere — an audition for a band, a cabaret show… you name it!
“I Feel the Earth Move” from Carole King’s album “Tapestry” was made for pop/rock altos. All of her songs on this album are excellent, but this is one of the uptempo songs for some contrast. Not only is this a great audition song for bands, talent shows, and open mics, but it also works for musical theatre, since there is now a Broadway show (“Beautiful”) that features all Carole King songs!
“If He Really Knew Me” — this is a very moving ballad from “They’re Playing Our Song” by Marvin Hamlisch. It’s perfect for musical theatre altos who consider themselves more pop-ish, rather than brassy belters. The other plus to this song is that audition panels usually love hearing it, since it’s far from overdone!
“I’ve Got The Sun in the Morning” — this older show tune from Irving Berlin’s beloved “Annie Get Your Gun” is uptempo and just plain fun! A wide variety of lower-voiced ladies have performed this (including Doris Day and Reba McEntire!), but here is the original performer, the great belter Ethel Merman:
“Stride la vampa” — this is only for mature altos who have studied and performed for many years! Verdi is definitely meant for the professionals. This very dramatic operatic aria from “Il Trovatore” will show off your trill, your low chest notes, and your acting chops as well. Here is the great Marilyn Horne, who happens to have ALL of that and then some!
“Oh Thou That Tellest” from Handel’s “Messiah” — you simply can’t go wrong with this. If you’re a classical singer, you know that being prepared with “Messiah” can be lucrative, especially if you do lots of concert work. This aria is appropriate for auditions for church gigs, vocal competitions, and music programs everywhere.
Of course, the best resource for repertoire is your voice teacher! He or she really knows your voice and abilities, and can work with you in finding the perfect audition songs for altos to best show you off, musically, vocally, and dramatically. Part of the fun of being a singer is discovering the repertoire that speaks to you, and there are many qualified voice teachers out there who would love to help you with that — especially you wonderful, rare altos!
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!
Photo by Will Murphy